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Phil Talmadge Drops Out Of Governor's Race

OLYMPIA - Democrat Phil Talmadge dropped out of the
race for Washington governor on Thursday because he has a kidney
tumor and may require surgery.


Campaign spokeswoman Catherine Kovell said the tumor is not
cancerous, but the retired Supreme Court justice needs to focus on
his health and not the rigors of a hotly contested primary.


Talmadge, 53, collapsed at a Bellevue restaurant last week - his
own birthday dinner hosted by his family - and was taken to
Overlake Hospital, where doctors diagnosed the tumor, Kovell said
in an interview.


"It's not cancer, thank God, but he may have to have surgery,"
she said. "This comes at the worst possible time, of course, for a
campaign. It is causing him some trouble. It's not a good time to
be campaigning."


Talmadge also has been ailing politically. Polls showed him
running a distant third in the race for the Democratic nomination,
behind Attorney General Christine Gregoire and King County
Executive Ron Sims.


Talmadge also trails in fund-raising and in securing key
endorsements.


Former state Sen. Dino Rossi is the favorite for the Republican
nomination to replace Democrat Gary Locke, who is not seeking a
third term.


In an interview Wednesday, Talmadge talked about his health, but
did give specifics. At that time he said he was assessing his
campaign and expected to decided shortly.


"I have some health issues," he said. "Nothing
life-threatening, just annoying. I'm having some health challenges,
mid-life health stuff."


Kovell said that after that interview, Talmadge spoke further
with his doctor and family and decided to quit the race.


Talmadge, an appeals attorney who represented West Seattle for
16 years in the state Senate and served six years on the Supreme
Court, was the first candidate to jump into the race. That was two
years ago, long before Locke decided to bail out after eight years.
He now becomes the first high-profile Democrat to leave the fray.


After the powerful Washington Education Association endorsed
Gregoire on April 17, Talmadge said he would have to reassess his
candidacy. A few days later, he decided to soldier on.


But right after that, he discovered the cause of recent health
problems. He was admitted to the hospital April 20 last week and
stayed several days. He quietly suspended campaigning, canceling a
weekend appearance in Pierce County, but Kovell said he didn't
decide until this Wednesday that he couldn't continue the campaign.


"It has really been rough," she said. "After talking with his
family and doctors, they decided, you don't want to mess with your
health."


Talmadge told his campaign staff his decision on Wednesday, and
there was sadness and weeping all around, Kovell said.


Talmadge doesn't plan to endorse anyone for governor, she said.
He has been sharply critical of Gregoire, the front-runner, and
differs with Sims on Sound Transit and a variety of issues.


Talmadge said Gregoire probably will receive the state Labor
Council's endorsement on May 8, to go with numerous other labor
endorsements. Locke is expected to endorse her and state Democratic
Chairman Paul Berendt is quietly in her camp, Talmadge said.


"She will tie up virtually the entirety of the Democratic
support groups out there," Talmadge said, describing the
frustration of trying to get traction against her.


Kovell said Talmadge is likely to stay active in politics, but
hasn't set his sights on another race yet.


"Nothing concrete, but he does plan to get back into
politics," she said.

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