Senate hopeful pulls out of race

Van Susteren notes funding shortage


Lise Van Susteren, the only woman running for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat, bowed out of the race yesterday, pointing to concern that she would not be able to raise enough money to emerge from the crowded Democratic primary field.

A forensic psychiatrist and political neophyte, Van Susteren said in a statement that she would not yet endorse one of her Democratic opponents but promised to help the eventual nominee to victory in November.

"We need to elect people from diverse occupational backgrounds, who bring skills honed from success in other areas, and whose life experiences sharpen their passion to consider the lives of real people when making policy," she said.

"We also need gender balance in government. ... I am convinced that if there were more women in government all over the world, we would have a safer and more peaceful place to live," she said.

Van Susteren, a resident of Montgomery County, entered the race in September, vowing to make health care reform a central issue of her campaign.

She had raised about $500,000 in the time since, but said previously that she would contribute her own money to the campaign if necessary.

Yesterday, Van Susteren, the sister of Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, said she was pleased with what her campaign had accomplished.

"Together we poured energy into traveling the state and talking about issues that affect the lives of real people every day," she said. "Our message was well received. And while we raised half a million dollars, it wasn't enough to assure that we would reach the numbers of voters that we would need to win in September."

The Democratic primary contest is crowded with lesser-known candidates, such as Van Susteren, who have expressed an interest in shaking up the system by running for the seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

The race has been dominated, however, by Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore and former congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume. Cardin enjoys the support of many influential Maryland Democrats, such as Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, while Mfume, who has raised less money than Cardin, is nationally known.

The eventual Democratic nominee, selected in a September primary, will likely face Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the expected Republican candidate.

Steele won office in 2002 as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s running mate but has never been elected on his own. He is a favorite of the GOP establishment in Washington and has benefited from fundraising help from President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, departing White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and presidential adviser Karl Rove, who have all hosted events for him.

The other Democrats in the race are American University professor Allan J. Lichtman, businessman Joshua Rales, former Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and activist A. Robert Kaufman. Third-party candidate Kevin Zeese is also running.

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