David Wu resigns his seat in Congress

David Wu resigns his seat in Congress
Rep. David Wu

PORTLAND, Ore. – Embattled Congressman David Wu will no longer hold his seat in Congress as of 11:59 p.m. tonight, his office announced in a press release Wednesday.

In the release he said he notified U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber of his resignation.

The seven-term Democrat's resignation came after The Oregonian reported that an 18-year-old woman, the daughter of a friend, accused him of an unwanted sexual encounter. After the allegation became public, support for Wu evaporated. Days later he then announced he would resign but stay in office until after the debt-ceiling vote. The U.S. House passed the debt-ceiling bill Monday. The Senate followed the next day and President Barack Obama signed it.

"Serving as a U.S. Congressman has been the greatest honor of my life," Wu said in the press release. "There is no other job where you get up each day and ask, 'How can I try to make the world a better place today?'"

He said he worked hard for investing in science and education as well as working for human rights and civil liberties.

"However great the honor and engaging the work, there comes a time to hand on the privilege of elected office—and that time has come," he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Wu's challenger in the November 2010 election, Republican Rob Cornilles, announced he will try again for a win in the 1st Congressional District in a special election to fill Wu's seat. Cornilles lost to Wu by almost 37,500 votes.

Cornilles, a small business owner, will make his run for Congress official at a Thursday morning news conference in Tualatin. He will be joined by his wife, Allison Au Cornilles, and other family members, according to a press release.

Kitzhaber's plan will set up the special election at least 80 days from Wu's official day of resignation. According to Kitzhaber’s office early Wednesday night, it has not yet received his official resignation letter. Kitzhaber must wait for that letter before setting a special election date.

The Democratic Party of Oregon Chair Meredith Wood Smith said in a statement released after Wu's Wednesday announcement: "We are glad that Oregon can move forward and find a replacement in the First Congressional District.  It is critical that this process begins immediately so that the citizens of the district can have a representative in Congress.  The Democratic Party is excited to see so many outstanding Democratic candidates step forward to fill the vacancy."

Democratic candidates, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt have announced they're running for the seat. Another Democrat, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici is reportedly considering a run as well.

KATU News reporter Patrick Preston contributed to this report.

Read Wu's statement