According to sources close to the campaign, Democratic state Sen. Craig Pridemore will announce today that he is withdrawing from the race to replace Rep. Brain Baird in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, leaving fellow Democrat Denny Heck with a sure path to the November ballot.
With a slew of establishment endorsements and a $250,000 infusion of his own money, Heck became the early Democratic favorite, an advantage Pridemore, a strong, populist-minded campaigner, simply wasn’t able to overcome, especially as he continued to be locked up in an endless, special legislative session. Pridemore had intended to run an energetic, grassroots primary campaign, a strategy that depended on strong support from labor organizations like the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Education Association. And while he recently secured the endorsement of the former, word leaked over the weekend that the WEA would be endorsing Heck, largely based on his fundraising lead and frontrunner status. (I don’t think teachers have a bigger champion in the Senate than Pridemore.)
Pridemore’s withdrawal is of course a blow to progressives like me who saw him as the better choice of the two Dems. Whether it’s a blow to Republicans, who wouldn’t have minded a Democratic cat fight in the primary, remains to be seen. In this anti-incumbency year, my gut told me that the more populist Pridemore had the better shot in November than the more establishment Heck.
But here’s hoping the Democratic establishment proves me wrong.
It’s official, and Publicola has Pridemore’s statement.