UFCW’s Brad Witt runs for Congress


State Rep. Brad Witt, a union representative of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 and  former secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO, has entered the Democratic primary for Congress in Oregon’s 1st District.
Witt, 59, was introduced to a small group of Sauvie Island residents July 7 by Scott Beckstead, an animal welfare activist from Oakland, Oregon, and Rachael Barry-Dame, director of the Columbia County Women’s Resource Center. It was the last of five stops he made in each of the five counties that make up the 1st Congressional District.
Witt said he will be a strong advocate for the middle class and will work tirelessly to bring back family-wage jobs. “My top priority is to put Americans back to work,” he said. “We need to repair our roads, rebuild our bridges, weatherize our schools and public buildings, and upgrade our water and sewer systems.”
Additionally, Witt promised to fight for a “financially solid Social Security and Medicare system so that today’s working families can retire with dignity,” and to stand up to big spending, Wall Street, global banks, and special interest groups.
Witt will have his work cut out for him, as he challenges seven-term incumbent David Wu. Also running in the Democratic primary is Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.
Wu, the first Chinese-American to serve in the House of Representatives, has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO in each of his seven campaigns. He has a 94 percent Committee on Political Education voting record as tracked by the national labor federation.
But Wu has been under media scrutiny since his re-election last November for erratic behavior that led to several key members of his staff resigning. Some constituents and party insiders have questioned whether he is fit to serve, and have called for his resignation. Wu explained that he was under severe stress during the campaign, that he sought professional help, and is fully capable of serving in Congress. He has raised more than $219,000 for his re-election, which isn’t until next year.
In an interview with the Labor Press prior to the press conference, Witt acknowledged Wu’s favorable labor voting record, but said, “There is more to it than just voting right. Folks that have encouraged me to run say they want competent leadership. They want someone in Washington who represents them — not issues entirely unrelated to their needs.”
Responding to some critics who have said the Democratic Party shouldn’t have a contested primary against an incumbent, or that any challenge should be limited to one candidate, Witt said, “This election is too important to be about incumbency or who gets into the race first. This Congressional election is about the opportunity for voters to determine which of the candidates best represents their views and priorities,” emphasizing that victory won’t necessarily go to the candidate who raises the most money, but rather “to the candidate who works the hardest and gains the voters’ trust.”
Witt is known for his long-term commitment to sustainable forestry, worker safety, and the rights of injured and dislocated workers. He says that his background and focus on business, the economy, and workforce development appeals to both labor and management, which sets him apart from the other candidates.
A resident of Clatskanie, Witt has served in the Oregon House since 2005. House District 31 runs some 90 miles along the Columbia River in Northwest Oregon from Sauvie Island to Astoria.
He has worked in sawmills, has served in a variety of staff capacities at the national AFL-CIO, the Western Council of Industrial Workers (now the Carpenters Industrial Council), and UFCW Local 555. He was first elected secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO in 1991, where he served for 14 years.
He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and received his master’s degree in labor relations from the University of Oregon.
Witt’s campaign website is: WittforCongress.com.


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