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Torsella to bow out of Senate race

Democrat Joe Torsella is calling off his bid for the Senate, a campaign source confirmed Thursday evening.

In a video to be released to supporters soon, a transcript of which was provided by someone inside the campaign, Torsella said that he was “initially reluctant to quit something that so many people had thrown themselves into, heart and soul.

“But now that the dust has settled,” Torsella said, “it’s clear to me that the kind of campaign this would become is not the kind of campaign I—or you—signed up for. It would probably be negative, personal, and more about Senator Specter’s past than our common future and that won’t do Pennsylvania any good.”

Even as he insisted he would stay in the primary fight against newly-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, party insiders had called his departure from the race inevitable. He was widely seen as running with the backing of Gov. Ed Rendell, who threw his weight behind Specter when the longtime Republican switched parties recently.

“I want you to know that no one asked me to take this step and I haven’t asked for anything or been offered anything in exchange,” Torsella said in the video, according to the transcript. “As with my decision to run in the first place, this simply feels to me and my family to be the right thing to do. And I want you to know, I’m not going anywhere. I intend to play an active part in the conversation about renewing America that has started in Washington, but is far from finished. I’m going to stay active in Democratic politics.”

People close to Torsella had acknowledged his disappointment that Specter’s switch had thrown a monkey-wrench into what looked to be a promising campaign. Torsella had
raised $600,000 in the first six weeks of his fundraising efforts, much of it from allies of Rendell and even from Rendell himself. He had built a high-profile political team, including a longtime media strategist close to the governor.

Torsella’s exit leaves Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7) as the most likely Democrat to buck party leaders and challenge Specter in next year’s primary.

His impending exit from the race was first reported by Politico.

May 14, 2009 at 5:49 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn

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