Who won the 1st District Congressional debate at KGW?
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The candidates in the race to replace David Wu in Congress in the 1st District faced off Tuesday night in a live televised debate at KGW Studios.
The debate was co-sponsored by The Oregonian and KGW NewsChannel 8.
The local and national economy was the primary focus of the candidates. Responding to a question about infrastructure as part of a jobs plan, Bonamici said she would work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come up with state portions of funding, and rebuilding the electrical grid.
She added a jobs plan would include getting capital to job creators and ending the Bush “tax cuts for millionaires” and creating more job training.
Cornilles noted the Oregon unemployment rate has been above the national average for 15 straight years and said Congress was preventing people from making hiring and investment decisions in the private sector because of new and burdensome regulations.
Cornilles, responding to a question regarding an ad accusing him of evading taxes, said a new bookkeeper neglected to pay payroll taxes in 2006 and, when he discovered the error he contacted the IRS and paid the taxes in full within 90 days.
Health care reform was also brought up in the debate. Bonamici said when people have access to affordable health care they can get preventative outcomes and stop “spending federal dollars on products that don’t make people healthy.”
“Privatization will not reduce costs for seniors,” she added.
Cornilles responded that he thought the Affordable Care Act aimed to provide access, but didn’t do anything to cut down costs. “My opponent has distanced herself from Sen. Ron Wyden’s plan to reform Medicare,” Cornilles added.
When asked if stories about Rep. Wu's behavior raised alarm bells, Bonamici said: “Wu is gone from office. He needed to resign. I was preparing to run against him when he resigned.”
Cornilles countered that Bonamici’s husband was Wu’s attorney for many years, and Cornilles asserted that they were involved with the Democratic party in an effort to hide stories of Wu’s sex scandal.
The two agreed they both opposed passing the Stop Online Piracy Act. They also agreed on reforming Social Security without privatizing the program.
On the topic of illegal immigration, Cornilles said he did not believe in amnesty for illegal immigrants, nor mass deportation. Bonamici said she supported cracking down on traffickers and having a pathway to citizenship for those "who are here.”
In her closing statement, Bonamici said "we need Congress to stop playing politics and do its job," adding "my record in the Oregon Legislature isn't long, but it's strong." Bonamici said she would protect a woman's right to choose, would not privatize Medicare, and would fight to support local jobs.
Republican Rob Cornilles emphasized his experience as a small businessman who had created jobs, and challenged Bonamici's experience in the world of business. He also challenged viewers of the debate to show bipartisanship when they voted, saying it was time for a change in Washington.
It was the last televised debate before the January 31st special election.
NewsChannel 8 anchor Tracy Barry moderated the debate. The debate included three rounds of questioning. The candidates fielded questions from Jeff Mapes, the senior political reporter for The Oregonian, and from Laural Porter, KGW anchor and host of the current affairs show, Straight Talk.
David Wu resigned his seat in Congress this summer after a series of controversies over his conduct.
More than 800,000 people live in Oregon’s First Congressional District.