Democrats want to wave good-bye to Rep. David Wu (D-OR) after The Oregonian added allegations of sexual misconduct to his already-impressive track record of oddities. Wu’s office announced that he would not seek re-election in 2012, but has no intention of leaving any earlier, either:
Embattled Rep. David Wu will not seek reelection in 2012, but he won’t resign from office now despite allegations that the Oregon Democrat had an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a close friend last Thanksgiving.
“He isn’t going to be running for reelection,” a Wu adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told POLITICO late Sunday night. “But he hasn’t done anything that rises to the level of requiring him to resign.”
Nancy Pelosi begs to differ, apparently:
With a defiant Wu staying put, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on the Ethics Committee to investigate the explosive allegations against him.
“I call on the Ethics Committee to initiate an investigation into the allegations against Congressman Wu,” Pelosi said in a statement released after Wu’s decision to stay put. “With deep disappointment and sadness about this situation, I hope that the Ethics Committee will take up this matter.”
At this point, we hear about “erratic” behavior that doesn’t ostensibly involve sex. What exactly are the “new questions”? This is a cheap and ridiculous article in my view. A woman who is unhappy with her sexual relationship with Wu has called his office but has not called the police, and now we’re supposed to review everything else we know about him in some new context? Is this the way we are to do politics in America now?
Note that the woman who has brought this chaos into Wu’s career is shielded by the newspaper’s policy not to “use the names of victims of sexual assault without their permission.” That’s convenient. I think if you are going to have a policy like that, you should not report at all unless the alleged victim has reported a crime to the police. It’s not fair.
At this point, Glenn Reynolds wonders whether Pelosi wants Wu out of the way to run a stronger (translation: less weird) candidate for 2012. That doesn’t make much sense as an explanation, though. Democrats probably have more to lose from a special election in OR-01 than to gain. The district is D+8 in the Cook index, which makes it a safer district for Democrats than Anthony Weiner’s seat in NY-09 (D+5). Special election turnouts can be unpleasantly surprising, though, especially in the wake of scandal — and it might just put a Republican in that seat as an incumbent for 2012.
In terms of electoral advantage, Democrats are probably better off having Wu remain in the seat, as long as Democrats keep him at arm’s length. That would explain the ethics probe; it allows Democrats to disown Wu for the next fifteen months, a period of time likely too short for an Ethics probe to finish anyway. They will have enough time to find a more reliable (translation: less embarrassing) candidate for 2012 and be able to rely on normal turnout patterns in a scheduled election to hold the seat.