SALEM, Ore. — Waving signs on street corners and stopping into coffee shops, the candidates hoping to replace former Rep. David Wu made a final push Monday to get their supporters to turn in their ballots.
It's too late to mail them, but voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to drop ballots into county collection bins. So far, about 36 percent of registered voters have submitted ballots in the special election for a seat in the U.S. House.
Wu, a Democrat, resigned last year following allegations that he made an unwanted sexual advance.
The special election has been an expensive and sometimes nasty battle fought largely in television ads. As the clock ticked closer to the deadline, the campaigns shifted their focus to getting out the vote.
Republican Rob Cornilles spent part of the weekend with supporters at his campaign headquarters, where he joined volunteers making phone calls to voters who still haven't turned in their ballots. He enlisted support from some celebrities, too — former professional basketball player Antonio Harvey on Saturday, and the starts of TLC's reality show "Little People, Big World" on Sunday.
On Monday, he spent part of the morning waving sings in Beaverton to remind people that election day is near.
"It just feels really good right now," Cornilles said Saturday. "But there's still a lot of work to do, we know. We can't let up on the gas."
Democrat Suzanne Bonamici spent the weekend stopping by restaurants and small businesses. She also shook hands with shoppers at a farmers market in downtown Portland and knocked on doors in Hillsboro.
Her plans Monday included stops to greet potential voters at coffee shops, grocery stores and Portland State University. She also sounded an optimistic chord in a recent interview.
"I feel good about the campaign and the support and the enthusiasm," she said. "But that being said, we aren't taking anything for granted."
Cornilles faces an uphill climb in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans and President Barack Obama enjoyed significant support in the 2008 campaign.
Cornilles, 47, owner of a consulting firm that does work for sports franchises, is making his second bid for the seat after losing to Wu in 2010.
To pull off an upset, he'll need to carry most Republicans and independents and pick up votes from some Democrats. He has downplayed his Republican affiliation and talks about being an independent voice. Cornilles has tried to tar Bonamici with the scandal that took down Wu and emphasized his business experience, saying he's most qualified work on legislation that creates jobs.
Bonamici, 57, is a lawyer and former state senator. Emphasizing her work in the Legislature and as a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission, she's pitched herself as a fighter for consumers and an effective legislator.
The district includes downtown Portland and the suburbs in Washington County, as well as smaller communities in Clatsup, Columbia and Yamhill counties.