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Primary Conversations: 1st Congressional Democrats

OPB | Oct. 25, 2011 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:46 p.m.

David Wu triggered a special election when he vacated his First Congressional District seat in August. Now several candidates are vying for the position. We’ll talk with Democrats and Republicans ahead of the November 8th primary election. We begin, in this show, with the Democrats.

Brad Witt, Suzanne Bonamici and Brad Avakian are all competing for the Democratic nomination. All three have experience in state government: Witt and Bonamici in the legislature and Avakian as labor commissioner. Bonamici also has a background as a lawyer, first with the Federal Trade Commission and then in private practice. Witt has strong roots in organized labor, as a union rep for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 and former secretary-treasurer for the AFL-CIO. Before Avakian was labor commissioner, he formed a good relationship with organized labor as a state senator. (Witt and Avakian’s labor connections probably explain why the big unions in the state have declined to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary.)

The race has been pretty civil thus far, leaving lots of room to focus on issues like jobs, trade and money in politics. The toughest thing about this race may be the candidates’ apparent agreement on almost everything. All three have voiced support for the Occupy movement. They’ve all expressed frustration with the federal government’s policy on marijuana. And all of them have called for American troops to come home sooner rather than later. One key difference among the three is their fundraising prowess, where Bonamici leads with Avakian not too far behind.

Do you live in the First Congressional District? What issues are most important to you? What would you like to ask the three Democratic front runners?

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