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GOP Hopes Dashed in Oregon Congressional Election

12:16 PM, Feb 1, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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A week ago in the pages of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, I wrote about the special congressional election in Oregon's first congressional district. The Republican candidate, businessman Rob Cornilles, appeared to have forced Democrats into making millions in ad buys, suggesting it was close race. However, in last night's election Democrat Susan Bonamici won —convincingly:

Bonamici, a former state senator, defeated Rob Cornilles, owner of a sports marketing business. With 98 percent of the votes counted, Bonamici led 54 percent to 40 percent.

"I really believe that the election reflects that my priorities and the district's are aligned," Bonamici told The Associated Press after a victory speech Tuesday night to her supporters in downtown Portland. "And I'm thrilled with this opportunity."

Bonamici, 57, said she expects to speak with congressional leaders Wednesday and find out when she'll be expected in Washington.

That's a slightly bigger margin than Cornilles lost to disgraced Democratic congressman David Wu in 2010, who was then an incumbent. (Granted, even in blue Oregon Cornilles had a little bit of national Tea Party wind at his back in that election.)

Still, this was a case where the Republicans had a very polished candidate going up against a very lackluster Democrat. Bonamici had spooked the first district's biggest employers with her stance on free trade; voted to raise taxes and fees 60 times in the Oregon legislature; and happens to be married to the personal lawyer of former congressman David Wu. This is the same lawyer who threatened to sue the person who revealed that Wu had been credibly accused of rape while in college, as well as The Oregonian for reporting on the story. Wu later resigned over inappropriate sexual advances toward a donor's teenage daughter, which was the reason the special election had to be held.

And the election still wasn't close.

It's not news that the GOP has had a hard time getting state and national candidates elected in Oregon for a while—with the notable exception of Rep. Greg Walden, who's holding his own in the sparsely populated and more conservative district that makes up Oregon's Eastern half. But there's no getting around the fact that this result does not bode well for the future of the Republican party in the Beaver state.

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