Close on the heels of a bizarre story in the News & Messenger that suggested that Jay O’Brien would drop out of the race for the 39th Senate District, O’Brien has sent out an email to his supporters announcing he would withdraw from the race because of work demands. This is depressing news, as Jay is a great candidate and would be immensely superior to the current representative, George Barker.
The article in the News & Messenger seemed rather absurd — Jay was in Clifton’s Davis General Store and saw some fliers for his primary opponent. He apparently asked if he could take some, and the folks at the store refused. He took some anyways. I can imagine screaming in a headline that there’s a huge scandal if O’Brien was personally and systematically removing all Scott Martin’s campaign materials from stores in Clifton, but taking a few fliers — even if the store’s employees don’t seem to like it — is so infinitely a snoozer of a scandal.
This afternoon, Jay sent out this email to supporters, and there’s an entirely different story going on here:
After much thought and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy from the 39th State Senate campaign for 2011.
Unfortunately, recent developments in my business will require more of my attention than I had previously anticipated. It is clear to me that I cannot continue a campaign for office without the full concentration it deserves.
I cannot begin to thank all the supporters who have assisted me over the many years I have served in public office; I am grateful to them beyond words. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I will never forget the friends and colleagues who have devoted themselves, often at great sacrifice, to make Virginia and America a better place.
If something actually scandalous happened, at least Jay O’Brien had the moral courage to do what is right. That is painfully, painfully rare in politics.
In the end we lose a great candidate, someone of great conviction and character, and I feel a bit robbed. Hopefully we’ll see Jay back on the campaign trail soon as he is a tremendously appealing alternative to what passes for elected “leadership” in that neck of the woods. Hopefully Scott Martin will be able to carry the fight forward in the 39th District and deliver the kind of redemption it so sorely needs and deserves.
UPDATE: NLS has more, and suggests this could mean the difference between Democrats retaining control of the Senate. Ouch.
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