PORTLAND, Ore. - For the second straight year, Rob Cornilles is running for the now former Congressman David Wu's seat and this time around he faces intense scrutiny from fellow Republicans about his conservative credentials.
Cornilles has the bankroll and the name recognition to win, but his opponents say he's not a real conservative. They're trying to win the upcoming special primary election by outflanking Cornilles to the far right.
Cornilles has the backing of most prominent Republicans and it would be a shock if he lost the primary, but before he can worry about the Democrats, he has to first deal with attacks from inside his own party.
Cornilles says his small business experience will help him find common ground with political opponents to create jobs.
"We do that through simplifying the tax code, eliminating loopholes that only mega-corporations get to take advantage of and making sure that our regulations are reasonable and not over the top," he said.
In his view, voters are tired of partisanship, although he is still committed to his party's cause.
"I'm a fiscally conservative Republican," he said.
His primary opponents disagree.
Real estate investor Jim Greenfield wants an aggressive approach to cut the national debt. He says Republicans don't realize how moderate Cornilles is.
"He's not a real Republican," Greenfield said.
Greenfield blasts Cornilles for refusing to sign pledges to not raise taxes or to repeal the federal health care law.
"Every single Republican in Congress voted against Obamacare, so Rob Cornilles is clearly out of touch with Republicans on that," he said.
Candidate and cable access show host Lisa Michaels also says Republicans shouldn't look to Cornilles to limit government and cut taxes.
"If you want to elect somebody, you need to elect somebody who is a rock solid conservative," she said.
When we asked Cornilles whether he feels he needs to establish that he is a conservative to the Republican base, he said "I think name calling and labeling is exactly what's wrong with politics today."
Pledges or not, Cornilles opposes raising taxes and argues that it's more practical to fix health care reform than get rid of it.
"I'm a principled person," he said. "and just because I have principles doesn't mean that I won't listen to what the other side has to say."
We should note that both candidates who were highly critical of Cornilles' conservatism said if he wins they will support him against a Democrat. But they also expressed concern that fellow conservatives might not be motivated with Cornilles as the party's nominee for Congress.
The special primary election is Nov. 8.
On the Democratic side of the race, state senators Suzanne Bonamici and Brad Witt, and Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian are vying for the seat.
Video Extras - Watch Our Entire Interviews with the Candidates