AFL-CIO won’t hold endorsement vote until U.S. Rep. Wu’s resignation is official

The Oregon AFL-CIO won’t consider an endorsement in the soon-to-be vacant 1st Congressional District until the incumbent, David Wu, officially resigns.

The seven-term Democrat announced July 26 that he was leaving the U.S. House of Representatives following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances on the 18-year-old daughter of a political supporter. The resignation was to take affect as soon as Congress resolved the debt ceiling issue. That vote had just taken place as this issue of the Labor Press went to press. Wu voted for the bill.

Two Democrats have already launched campaigns for the 2012 primary to challenge Wu. They are State Rep. Brad Witt, an official with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, and Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. Others are expected to enter the race. No Republicans have announced their candidacy.

At the quarterly meeting of the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education July 29, the labor federation said it will not consider an endorsement until Wu’s resignation is official and until Gov. John Kitzhaber has scheduled a special election — which he can’t do until Wu formally notifies him that he is stepping down.

The AFL-CIO’s next gathering is its state convention Sept. 25-28 in Eugene.

Wu, the first Chinese American elected to the House, has been under fire for erratic behavior since his re-election. Six longtime high-level staffers resigned because of public outbursts and odd behavior leading up to the election. Questions of his mental health were raised, along with reports of possible prescription drug and/or alcohol abuse.

Wu, 56, said that he was under tremendous stress in 2010 as he dealt with the tough re-election campaign, a difficult divorce, taking sole custody of his two children, and caring for his elderly mother. He emphatically denied a drug or alcohol problem, but acknowledged having a bad reaction to diazepam and Ambien in the past.

Several newspapers said he wasn’t fit for office and called for his resignation.

At a labor breakfast in March, Wu told union officials that he regretted some of the things he had said and the way he had acted that resulted in staff quitting. He said he was getting counseling.

On July 26, the Oregonian newspaper reported Wu had made unwanted sexual advances toward a teen-age girl. Wu said the encounter was consensual.
Shortly after that, several prominent Democrats, including U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, called for Wu to resign.