Singel drops out of 12th District race (Updated)
Less than a week after declaring his candidacy, former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel withdrew from the race in the 12th Congressional District, removing a major contender from the picture only days before Democratic insiders meet to pick a candidate for the May special election.
Singel made his announcement in a statement early Thursday evening, saying it’s important for Democrats to come together and hold the seat long held by the late Congressman John Murtha (D-12). His exit leaves Barbara Hafer, the former state treasurer and auditor general, and Murtha’s former district director Mark Critz as seemingly the two leading candidates. Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. is also running, as is Navy veteran Ryan Bucchianeri.
Singel did not endorse a candidate.
“Time is of the essence in this campaign,” he said in a brief interview with pa2010.com. “I really believe that in the interest of party unity, somebody has to yield in this crowded Democratic field.”
The state party announced earlier in the day that delegates from the 12th District will meet a week from Saturday to recommend a candidate, which will be followed two days later by a final selection, to be made by the party’s executive committee.
“We can wait for the Democratic State Committee to pick someone,” Singel said, “but that’s another week in which candidates aren’t raising money or building an organization. Everybody knows each other in this area, and I think we have to relive some of the pressure between opposing candidates.”
Critz was endorsed this week by Murtha’s widow, while Hafer likely enjoys the most widespread name recognition.
In his statement, which followed whispers Thursday afternoon that his exit was impending, Singel said staying in would only make it harder for Democrats to win, both in the special election to finish out Murtha’s term and in the November election for a new two-year term.
“While I could remain in this race and slug it out for endorsement, special election, primary, and general election, and while many have told me that I am the ‘favorite,’ I choose to withdraw from the race and to commit myself to support the endorsed candidate,” he said. “This is not about adding a new title to my political resume; it is about pulling the community together when we are under duress. This is the culture of our area and I look forward to play a continuing role in its progress.”
UPDATE: The Post-Gazette reports that Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso has also said he won’t seek the Democratic nod.
February 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm