Democrats hold onto Oregon's 1st Congressional District seat as Bonamici sweeps to victory

Republican Rob Cornilles and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici.

Democrats retained Oregon's 1st Congressional District seat Tuesday night as former state legislator Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory over Republican Rob Cornilles in a special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. David Wu, D-Ore.

Partial returns showed Bonamici with about 55 percent of the vote to Cornilles 39 percent.

Bonamici becomes the only woman in the seven-member Oregon congressional delegation and her campaign expects that she will be sworn in within the next week.

Sports marketing businessman Cornilles had portrayed himself as a proven job creator in the campaign. 

In the final hours of the campaign, Cornilles released a humorous video in which he played "Robert Colbert," the estranged brother of comedian Stephen Colbert. In the video, Cornilles said he would be getting the "Colbert bump," which he said would be about 3 percentage points.

Bonamici has spent the past few years in the state Senate and also served in the state House of Representatives. Before that, she worked as a consumer protection attorney.

She said she had the experience needed to step into Congress and represent the 1st District. 

"Members of Congress are held in pretty low esteem right now and I want help rebuild that confidence in our system of government," she said. 

There are more than 267,000 registered voters in the First District, which reaches from downtown Portland to Washington County to the north Oregon coast.

Wu had represented the 1st District since 1999, but stepped down in August amid allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances to an 18-year-old daughter of a former donor and friend.

Wu said it was consensual, but colleagues at home and in Washington, D.C., called for his resignation. Wu hasn't spoken publicly since then.