"I understand that the Congressman is seeking the professional help he needs to deal with the struggles he's facing. The issue though is not what he needs and his struggles, the issue is about what the First Congressional District needs right now," Avakian said Monday.
He added that the district "deserves" more than a congressman who simply shows up to Washington D.C. and votes lock-step with his party.
Avakian is a former Democratic legislator. In 2008, he was appointed labor commissioner and then was elected to a full term.
Wu issued a statement Monday that read "I take every opponent seriously, but right now my only focus is on serving my constituents by fighting for Oregon's innovation economy, getting our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and protecting Medicare for Oregon seniors."
A list of early endorsers for Avakian included Metro Council President Tom Hughes; Celia Nunez, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber board member; Dave Williams, NW Natural Vice President & OR Workforce Investment Board Chair; Jada Pearson, Beaverton kindergarten teacher; Roy Jay, President African-American Chamber of Commerce and Stephen Ying, Executive Director Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.
In his past elections, Wu has tapped the Chinese-American community for support and donations. But one group that has supported him in the past is defecting to Avakian.
Stephen Ying, executive director and former president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, told The Associated Press that his support for Avakian has nothing to do with the questions about Wu's behavior or health.
Ying said he respects Avakian from working with him in the past on civil rights issues.
"He was Chinese, we thought when he went to Congress he could help us on the civil rights issues," Ying said of Wu. "But we haven't seen that in the past."
Wu spokesman Erik Dorey said the congressman has been "one of the leading voices on human rights and civil liberties for more than a decade," as an opponent of the Patriot Act, a supporter of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and a proponent of Internet freedom.
Wu has been under harsh scrutiny for a mutiny by top staff, an accident in which the victim said he asked that police not be called, and hospitalization for reactions to prescription drugs. He was not reachable for comment Monday.
Meantime, after a series of appearances crafted to place him in gatherings of limited public exposure, Wu has just announced a series of open town hall meetings.
Portland Town Hall: April 27th; 6:00-7:15; East Sylvan Middle School Gym; 1849 SW 58th Ave.
Newberg Town Hall: April 28; 5:30-6:45PM; Chehalem Cultural Center; 415 E. Sheridan, Newberg, OR
Hillsboro Town Hall: April 29th; 5:30-6:45PM; Civic Center- Civic Auditorium
City Council Meeting Room; 150 E Main Street
Astoria Town Hall: April 30th; 10:00-11:15AM; Astoria Middle School; 1100 Klaskanine Rd.
Rainier Town Hall: April 30th; 2:30-3:45PM; Rainier High School; 28168 Old Rainier Rd.