Republicans see 2012 race against Rep. David Wu as 'highly competitive'

Rep. David Wu's (D-Ore.) decision to remain in office has created a "very competitive circumstance" in the otherwise Democratic-leaning first district, according to a senior House Republican. 

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was bullish on his party's chances in the district.

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"We are assessing what we believe will be a very competitive circumstance," Sessions told The Ballot Box. "And as always we're looking and carefully trying to get what we think would be a good match-up."

Wu has filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, which means he's considering a 2012 relection bid, despite calls from major Oregon newspapers for him to step down. The congressman has been under pressure after it emerged that he sent staffers a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume and e-mails written in the voices of his children days before the November 2010 election.

Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, recently refused to comment on Wu's future and several Republican candidates have started circling.

State Sen. Bruce Starr (R), whose legislative district falls in the first, said he's considering a run and 2010 GOP nominee Rob Cornilles said he's also interested.

Sessions said he had spoken with potential candidates from the district, but wouldn't name who they were. When asked about Cornilles, Sessions said the NRCC was still weighing its options.

"Rob Cornilles learned a lot and was a great candidate, but what we've got to do is assess the fallout from this thing first," Sessions said.

If the NRCC decides to invest in the race, it could be a problem for Democrats.

Wu reported having only $7,500 in his campaign at the start of the year, and he's carrying $60,656 in debt. Without the institutional support of the DCCC, the district could be vulnerable to a GOP takeover. 

-- This post was updated at 4:07 p.m.