The congressional career of Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., officially ended at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday night.
The embattled congressman announced last week he would resign in the wake of a damaging report that he had an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a campaign donor. But Wu had qualified that he would remain in Congress through the conclusion of the contentious debt-ceiling debate. But after the House voted on the compromise proposal on Monday, and President Obama officially signed the bill into law on Tuesday, Wu had still not made his exit official, prompting several Democrats, already frustrated with Wu’s long history of erratic behavior, to wonder why the delay.
Wu, however, finally released a statement on Wednesday evening saying he had notified Gov. John Kitzhaber, D-Ore., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of his resignation, effective just before midnight.
In his short, three-paragraph statement, Wu did not address the scandal that cost him his office.
"Serving as a U.S. Congressman has been the greatest honor of my life. There is no other job where you get up each day and ask, 'How can I try to make the world a better place today?' " he said. “Particularly meaningful to me has been working for more and better investments in science and education. Also, I believe that my support for people who struggle for human rights and civil liberties will ultimately bear fruit in a world that is more just and peaceful.
“However great the honor and engaging the work, there comes a time to hand on the privilege of elected office—and that time has come,” Wu added.
According to Kitzhaber’s office, the special primary to succeed Wu will be on November 8, 2011, and the special general election will be on January 31, 2012.
Successors had already been lining up to succeed Wu, several of whom had been planning to challenge him in the primary even before the Portland Oregonian’s story on Wu’s encounter with the young girl came to light last month. Oregon state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt had already announced their candidacy, and state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici is expected to jump in soon. Wu’s 2010 Republican opponent Rob Cornilles will officially launch his campaign on Thursday.