Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and popular Democratic candidate in Ohio's closely watched Senate contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of the race and leaving politics altogether as a result of pressure from party leaders.
Mr. Hackett said Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race, had pushed him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent.
Mr. Hackett staged a surprisingly strong Congressional run last year in an overwhelmingly Republican district and gained national prominence for his scathing criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq War. It was his performance in the Congressional race that led party leaders to recruit him for the Senate race.
But for the last two weeks, he said, state and national Democratic Party leaders have urged him to drop his Senate campaign and again run for Congress.
"This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me," said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state's filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.
"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."
Earlier this month in southwest Missouri, Democrat Charles Dake defeated Eric Seifried for an open seat in the Missouri House. Dake got 56 percent of the vote in the 132nd District, long considered a GOP stronghold.
Leaders in the Missouri Democratic Party were stunned at Dake's win. They did not go to the wall for his campaign, and after Dake's victory they quietly dismissed his chances of holding the seat come the November general election.
They ignore classic signs of burgeoning GOP revolt in the Ozarks -- low voter turnout, lawmakers distancing themselves from an unpopular governor and his policies. Southwest Missouri is a lost cause for statewide Dems. The region that brought you Rep. Roy Blunt has two Democrats in the state house and none in the state senate. The state party continues to focus on races in Kansas City and St. Louis.
That's just fine with the Missouri Republican Party. Now alerted to the warning signs from Lawrence County, they will spend a lot of energy and money to recapture the 132nd District. When will the Democrats learn?