The most high-profile Republican primary challenger to freshman Rep. Joe Walsh in the state’s new northwest suburban 8th Congressional District announced today she was dropping out of the race.
Darlene Ruscitti, the DuPage County superintendent of schools, said in a statement that her role “as a leader within the Illinois Republican Party” and a “desire to avoid a costly primary” outweighed her personal political aspirations.
Ruscitti had been backed by Republican Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale in the challenge to Walsh, the controversial tea party-backed candidate. Walsh’s McHenry home had been lumped into the new 14th District, and he had originally planned to challenge fellow freshman Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren of Winfield.
But Walsh later decided to seek election in the new 8th District, where no incumbent currently lives. The new district includes Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village and leans Democrat. Two major Democratic candidates have emerged: Tammy Duckworth, the former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, a former deputy state treasurer.
“Service to this great state and nation is the reason I decided to run for Congress and that passion for public service will continue to guide me as an educator and civic leader in the years to come,” Ruscitti said in a statement. She said she had gathered 4,000 signatures on her candidacy petitions.
Pat Brady, the state GOP chairman, said Ruscitti had been named as co-chair of the Republicans’ Illinois “victory” operation, a program that recruited voters in the 2010 election cycle.
Walsh issued a statement praising Ruscitti for choosing "to put her country and party ahead of political interest."
Filing of candidacy petitions for congressional candidates for the March 20 state primary begins Friday at the Illinois State Board of Elections. The filing date was pushed back as a federal court panel reviewed and ultimately rejected a Republican challenge to the Democratic-drawn redistricting map.
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