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« Plain Dealer Vs. Kucinich | Blog Home Page | Sunday Quick Hits »

Versace Out In IL-18

Dick Versace, a former NBA and Bradley University basketball coach, unexpectedly announced he will not run for retiring GOP Rep. Ray LaHood's Illinois District. Versace, the only Democrat in the race so far, now leaves the party without a candidate.

"Due to unforeseen personal circumstances, I am announcing my withdrawal as a Democratic candidate for the congressional seat in this district," said Versace, in a released statement. "I thank everyone for their support and encouragement in this race, and I ask that you please respect my privacy and that of my family as we face this difficult personal issue."

Versace would have faced a difficult run for the open seat, as President Bush won the district in 2004 with 58%. Three Republicans - state Rep. Aaron Schock, television executive John Morris and Heartland Partnership CEO Jim McConoughey - are competing in the Republican primary.

Still, Democrats had hope that Versace, with a bit of star power behind him, could have stolen the district in 2008. The party won several seats in 2006 that boasted bigger Republican advantages than the GOP enjoys in the 18th. National Republicans have to be relieved that a threat to one of their seats seems to have evaporated. "With three strong Republican challengers running for the nomination, we believe that we remain in a good position to retain the seat," NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said.

State parties can file a candidate if no one announces a bid before filing day, an Illinois Democratic Party spokesman said.

-- Kyle Trygstad and Reid Wilson