It would be overstatement to say that our nightmare is over - as President Gerald Ford did, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. But it is a relief to have a newly elected member of Congress after six months during which Clatsop County had no representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Suzanne Bonamici's convincing victory in Tuesday's special congressional election opens a new chapter in our politics and government. Bonamici brings a level of legislative experience to the job that our district has not seen since Les AuCoin went to Congress from being House Majority Leader of the Oregon Legislature. AuCoin left Congress in 1993.

Commentators have noted that Bonamici must run for office all over again - in the May primary and November general election. That is true. But the more daunting fact is that the Republican Party must come up with a new congressional candidate, and very quickly. After losses to David Wu and Bonamici, it is unlikely that Rob Cornilles is a bankable candidate.

Going to Congress in the winter of 2012 is a tough assignment - akin to being sent on the field for the third quarter of a football game that has become a grudge match between two longtime rivals. Bonamici is a serious legislator who seeks real accomplishment. Her baptism by fire in the U.S. House will probably take about 10 minutes.

But if our national politics is ever again to become a serious endeavor with real accomplishment, it will happen only when there is a critical mass of skilled legislators. Our new member of Congress will be among them.