Richardson drops out, Rasoul now presumptive Sixth District Dem nominee

Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

I surely didn’t see it coming.

“I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination effective immediately,” Sixth District Democratic congressional candidate Drew Richardson said in a statement today that ended his run at the party nomination.

“I congratulate the presumptive nominee, Mr. Rasoul, and wish him and his supporters well and good luck over the coming months,” said Richardson, who had entered the race for the nomination with Sam Rasoul on Feb. 11 and by all accounts had been doing well on the campaign trail.

But Richardson said today that it had “become obvious to me over the last many weeks that my opponent has won the support of a majority of our party’s activists and perhaps had done so prior to my entry into the race.”

“If I were to continue with my campaign, I have concluded, even if I were to be successful, the win could badly divide our party. I personally would be left with, at best, merely having won a short-lived victory only to guarantee sure defeat for the party and myself in November,” Richardson said.

Rasoul told me tonight that he talked with Richardson earlier today and learned of Richardson’s decision regarding his campaign at that time.

“One thing that people may not know is that Drew and I have always had a good working relationship. We’ve known each other since I started. I’ve been to his home. We’ve had lunch together on a couple of occasions,” Rasoul said. “He actually very graciously called me before he made his announcement this morning and let me know at that point that he would be conceding the race to me and to wish me all the luck in the future.

“I believe that the party will be unified as we move toward challenging the incumbent. I don’t doubt that at all,” Rasoul said.

Rasoul said the challenge from Richardson was a benefit to his campaign in the end.

“No election should go uncontested. That’s really the essence of why we entered the race 14 months ago, because the incumbent of course hadn’t been contested in about 10 months. We were happy that he brought some issues to the table and created a conversation that excited many Democratic activists throughout the district,” Rasoul said.

“I tell my campaign that having a challenger is really the best thing that ever happened to our campaign. Because we had to mobilize like never before, mobilize toward a short-term goal, search for supporters where we had never searched before, just digging, digging through thousands and thousands of labeled Democrats throughtout the district. It’s really helped us not only find ourselves and organize, but it’s helped us, we realize in retrospect, it’s helped us prove ourselves. Now we’re able to challenge the incumbent as victors ourselves,” Rasoul said.

“This is a victory that shows in the face of some odds against a challenger like a Drew Richardson, who maybe more fits the mold of a traditional candidate, a 56-year-old Ph.D., affluent, professor who is a former FBI agent, may in some people’s eyes fit that mold of traditional candidate, and we were able to go in there and prove that here I am, a young small-business owner from Botetourt County who believes that good old-fashioned retail politics, that’s really what people are looking for in 2008, is someone to carry that torch,” Rasoul said.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.


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