It seems that David Wu didn’t need much convincing to move his tiger tail into retirement:
“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to be a United States Congressman. Rare is the nation in which an immigrant child can become a national political figure. I thank God and my parents for the privilege of being an American,” Wu said in a statement.
“Now, however, the time has come to hand on the privilege of high office. I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.
He’s not going away immediately, however:
But Wu added he will remain in office through the ongoing debt limit negotiations.
“The wellbeing of my children must come before anything else. With great sadness, I therefore intend to resign effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis,” said Wu. “This is the right decision for my family, the institution of the House, and my colleagues. It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington.
Why bother? A debt-ceiling vote in the House is not likely to be a close-run affair regardless of which version gets a floor vote. There is an outside chance that a single vote could carry the day, but it’s exceedingly small. By the same reasoning, Wu could argue that bailing out on his district will prevent those voters from having representation on another several months of critical votes, some of which may be close than the vote will be on this issue.
This is apparently the outcome most desired by House Democratic leadership, but it’s hard to understand why. Wu’s district (OR-01) is a safe Democratic hold in regular elections, with a D+8 advantage in the Cook index. It’s not even clear that Wu would have lost a re-election bid in 2012, but even a non-incumbent Democrat should have held that seat with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Now Oregon will have to call a special election to fill out the remainder of Wu’s term, and a Republican could take advantage of the oddities of special-election turnouts to grab the seat. It’s not likely to happen, but the odds are better than in the next election.