Oregon lawmaker's strange behavior ignites GOP hopes

Recent revelations about Rep. David Wu's (D-Ore.) behavior ahead of last November's midterm election has emboldened several GOP contenders to consider challenging the seven-term lawmaker.

Wu's 2010 challenger, sports management consultant Rob Cornilles, is thinking about making a second run — and he's not alone. State Sen. Bruce Starr (R) is also weighing a bid, and said he's not worried about the prospect of facing another strong Republican candidate in the primary.

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"Whether it's a contested primary or not, at the end of the day the northwest corner of the state of Oregon needs to have effective representation and, currently, it's very clear that we don't," Starr told The Ballot Box.

Starr said he hasn't yet spoken to Cornilles or to the National Republican Congressional Committee about getting into the race, but that could happen soon.
 
"Rob's a good guy, he's a good candidate. But he came up significantly short — 13-14 points — in what may be the best Republican year we've had probably since 1994,” said Starr. "When and if my family and I make the decision to run, I'll have a conversation with Rob and we'll figure that out. I'm not worried about it right at this point."

Starr said he could tout his record of "legislative accomplishment" during a contested primary.

"I've worked in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues here in the legislature, across the aisle to get things done for the communities I represent," said the three-term lawmaker.

That experience could be translated to Congress, he added.

Starr could be a strong candidate — he's known to some voters as he represented Washington County, which is inside the first district, for 12 years in the state legislature. "I have a record of getting elected in Democrat districts," he said.

Days before the Nov. 2 vote, Wu sent his staff a picture of himself wearing a tiger Halloween costume and e-mails written in the voice of his children. His behavior prompted six of his 20 staffers to quit their jobs.

Wu said on ABC's "Good Morning America" last week that he’s been seeking "both counseling and medication" since October, when the congressman's bizarre behavior caused his staff to suggest he seek hospitalization.  

Starr said it wasn’t enough for Wu to have done TV interviews addressing his behavior.

"The congressman needs to come back and have a conversation with voters," the Republican said. "He's hasn't done that. He's done some television interviews, but he hasn't sat in front of Oregonians and answered questions. He needs to talk to the voters, not just answer reporters' questions on television."

Starr said he remains focused on business in the state legislature, which is in session until June, but may consider a run once it ends.

"It looks fairly certain that the congressman is dead-set against resignation," said Starr. "That being the case, you have to look at November 2012 and putting all those pieces together. We'll be talking about it."

Wu filed to run for reelection last week.