- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2002

House members expressed no shock or strong feelings yesterday over the plight of Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, who lost the race for the Democratic nomination in his district Tuesday.
"That's a decision his constituents had to make. They made it. I wish him well," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat.
Mr. Condit, whose career became overshadowed by his affair with missing intern Chandra Levy, lost the Democratic primary in California's 18th District to his former aide Dennis Cardoza, a state assemblyman who garnered 55.3 percent of the vote to Mr. Condit's 37.5 percent.
Mr. Condit ran for a seventh term even after some Democrats withdrew support and encouraged him to retire.
"I was not surprised by the outcome," said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat who supported Mr. Cardoza. "It was always the people of the 18th District who had to decide. They spoke yesterday, and they spoke loudly."
Mrs. Tauscher, who like Mr. Condit is a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, added she is "always disappointed when someone who had worked hard for the constituents falls out of favor … I think most people wish him well."
Some Democrats expressed relief that their party now will not have to spend big to hold onto Mr. Condit's seat and can focus on gaining new seats.
"Our responsibility is to take back the House," said Rep. Joe Baca. "If we're spending money trying to retain seats, then we're throwing money down the drain."
"We now have a safe seat with Dennis Cardoza," he said, predicting that the large number of Hispanic and Portuguese voters in the 18th District, in the northern San Joaquin Valley, will back Mr. Cardoza.
Mr. Baca said he tried to discourage Mr. Condit from running.
"I told him, 'This is about taking back the House; this is not personal about you,'" Mr. Baca said, adding that the whole situation is "very unfortunate."
Mr. Condit was unavailable for comment yesterday. He stayed in his district most of the day and took a flight back to Washington. He came out of his home briefly Tuesday night to thank his constituents for letting him represent them.
"I'll never forget it, and I am going to work hard for the remaining time that I have there and do everything I can do to make the Valley a better place to be," he said.
Mr. Condit was elected in 1989, but his reputation became tarnished last year by his involvement with Miss Levy, a 24-year-old Modesto woman who vanished a few days after her Washington internship ended last spring.
Mr. Condit has refused to discuss the relationship in detail, but police have said he acknowledged an affair with Miss Levy. He has not been charged with anything, and police have stated that Mr. Condit is not a suspect.
"I said all along that the people of the 18th District would decide this," said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican. "If there's a change in perception in the job you do, people make a change."
The National Republican Congressional Committee circulated a memo yesterday saying that state Sen. Dick Monteith, is one of their "top tier challengers this cycle" and the race is "a pickup opportunity for Republicans to expand the majority." The memo said Mr. Cardoza is too liberal for the district and "has not found a tax hike he does not like."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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