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April 23, 2010 at 7:27 PM

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Rossi pal Widener dropping out of Senate race

Posted by Kyung M. Song

WASHINGTON -- Chris Widener -- who vowed to quit his campaign for U.S. Senate if his friend Dino Rossi jumped in -- on Friday said he's dropping out of the race to make room for front runners.

But he's not talking about Rossi.

Widener, a Preston author and motivational speaker, suspended his four-month campaign and urged his fellow Republican candidates to get behind those with the best shot at unseating Democrat Sen. Patty Murray. Widener said his decision was unrelated to Rossi, who's still mulling a possible candidacy.

Widener's letter to supporters read in part:

Throughout the past four months, I’ve encouraged my fellow candidates to engage in a positive, healthy debate and, as they say, “let the best man win.” I’m happy this has been the case.

But I have also urged them to put the party and our cause first, and if it became obvious that one or two individuals began emerging as clear front-runners, the others should consider stepping aside.

Today, I am taking my own advice.

I am very confident that one or two of the candidates not only have the right ideas but also the resources necessary to defeat Senator Murray in November. It is time to focus more of our precious financial resources on fewer candidates so they can begin to reach out to more voters.

In Widener's view, the leading candidates are state Sen. Don Benton, Shoreline physician Art Coday and Bellingham businessman Paul Akers.

Widener said he speaks almost daily with Rossi, who has yet to commit to running.

"He's doing his due dilligence," Widener said, adding that he hopes Rossi will go for the Senate seat. "Dino will be a better choice than all the others. Certainly Dino would be able to win."

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