Oregon's 1st Congressional District

Bonamici Scores Lasting Victory

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici cruised to victory in a special congressional election and she may have the seat for as long as she wants it. Democrat Suzanne Bonamici cruised to a double-digit victory over Republican Rob Cornilles in this week's special election to replace Oregon 1st District Congressman David Wu, who resigned last year amid a sex scandal.

Bonamici's convincing win didn't surprise many people, but explanations for her success don't always ring true. Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, dismiss the 1st District and Oregon generally as a liberal-leaning part of the Left Coast.

That generalization overlooks the fundamentals that have turned Oregon's 1st Congressional District into a Democratic bastion since 1974, when in the wake of the Watergate scandal Les AuCoin became the first Democrat in state history to capture the congressional seat since it was created in 1893.

Voters in the 1st District, which in the 1970s included Lake Oswego, Lincoln City and more rural areas than now, didn't suddenly change their political philosophy. What happened was the growth of a working Democratic majority, backed by an effective political apparatus that gets out voters who support Democrats.