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Bonamici Joins Oregon Special Seeking Frontrunner Status

State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici is making a play for frontrunner status as she officially entered the special election in Oregon’s 1st district on Thursday.

“I have a long record of being a consumer advocate and reputation as a legislator who can get things done,” the Democrat said in an interview with Roll Call. “The response has been so positive.”

The Democrat said she has collected more than $240,000 in contributions and pledges from 158 donors over a five-day fundraising push. She is also rolling out big endorsements from former Gov. Barbara Roberts, the only woman ever elected to that position in Oregon, state Attorney General John Kroger and former Rep. Elizabeth Furse, who represented the 1st district for three terms in the 1990s.

Bonamici had been planning to join the Democratic primary fray on Thursday, even before Rep. David Wu (D) officially resigned Wednesday night. Bonamici will have at least two primary opponents: state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt. Rob Cornilles, Wu’s Republican challenger in 2010, is also scheduled to enter the race Thursday.

Bonamici, a University of Oregon graduate, worked as a consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission and later worked in a private law practice. After a career break to raise her children, Bonamici took a job as a legislative assistant in the state House in 2001. She was elected to the state House in 2006, and was appointed and then elected to the state Senate in 2008 and 2010. She represented the 1st district’s population hub, Washington County, in both chambers.

Bonamici is married to federal Judge Michael Simon, who was confirmed by the Senate in June. Simon, a former attorney at Perkins Coie, resigned as Wu’s attorney earlier this year after at least a seven-year “professional relationship,” the Oregonian reported in April.

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