State Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, announced Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the 3rd Congressional District race. He endorsed fellow Democrat Denny Heck.
Pridemore, a two-term legislator who chairs the State Revenue Forecast Council and sits on the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, said the intense, prolonged 2010 legislative session set him too far behind the fundraising pace set by Heck.
He said he received no pressure from the Democratic Party leadership to drop out.
“I want first of all to thank all of the individuals and organizations who supported my campaign,” Pridemore said in a statement. “I am so grateful to have earned your trust, and look forward to continued service in the state Senate. I am especially humbled by the endorsements of organizations and friends who have rallied in recent weeks, knowing that we left the session with a steep hill to climb.”
Heck said he was “very grateful and frankly touched by” Pridemore’s endorsement. “Earlier today, he called me,” Heck said. “To say he was generous of spirit was an understatement.”
Asked how Pridemore’s withdrawal would affect his campaign, Heck responded, “I said from day one this is going to be a very difficult race and it’s still going to be a very difficult race. If anything, it makes me want to work even harder.”
Just two weeks ago, after receiving a key endorsement from the Washington State Labor Council, Pridemore said his campaign had reached a turning point.
“It’s a new day here at Pridemore for Congress,” he said in a May 17 press release. “We’ve reset the campaign, produced new momentum, and gained significant strength.”
But on Tuesday, he said the long legislative session had “placed our campaign at a clear disadvantage.”
“While I wish I had been able to focus on my campaign earlier, I am proud that my focus this winter was where it needed to be: Addressing the real issues facing the working families and small businesses of Southwest Washington,” he said. “I entered politics to excel at public service, not the other way around.”
Another factor in his decision, he said, was learning that the Washington Education Association will endorse Heck. “That was a critical part of our base,” he said.
Heck, a former state legislator and the founder of TVW, the state’s public affairs TV channel, “is now in the best position — and is the best candidate — to win the seat in November,” Pridemore said.
“Denny is a bright, hard-working and authentic Southwest Washington leader and we need his broad experience working for us in Congress,” he said. “I encourage my supporters to help him and Sen. Patty Murray in their elections this November.”
Heck reported to the Federal Elections Commission in April that as of March 31, he had raised $569,610 — including $250,000 he has donated to his own campaign — and had $532,446 in cash on hand.
Pridemore said in an interview that he has raised about $120,000, but needed to raise much more to compete with Heck and the other candidates for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep Brian Baird, D-Vancouver.
“I have no regrets for jumping in, but a lot of regrets for having to drop out,” he said. “Filing week is next week. This is the proper time to be magnanimous and gracious.”
Democrat Cheryl Crist, an Olympia peace activist running for the 3rd District seat, praised Pridemore’s “passion for progressive causes, especially labor and the environment,” and said she would continue to fight for those same causes.
As of March 31, she had reported $6,706 in total contributions.
“The people who supported Sen. Pridemore (on) these issues still have an advocate in the race for Congress, and I welcome their support,” she said.
Kathie Durbin: 360-735-4523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.