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Pennsylvania

Levdansky says DeWeese should drop out of race

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008

HARRISBURG -- Saying Bill DeWeese has become a "liability" to the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. David Levdansky today called on the majority leader to withdraw from his House race by the Aug. 11 deadline.

While six other House Democrats have called on DeWeese to step down as majority leader, Levdansky became the first to publicly call on DeWeese to drop out of his Greene County race against Republican Greg Hopkins as a result of the criminal charges filed last month against 12 people connected to the Democratic Caucus.

"A true leader does not unnecessarily put his troops directly in harm's way for purely personal gain. Bill has become a liability for the members of the House Democratic Caucus," said Levdansky, D-Elizabeth. "Leadership demands the courage to sacrifice for the common good, which in this case is the greater public that we all serve and the members of the House Democratic Caucus."

In a series of public statements over the past week, DeWeese has said he didn't know about the massive political operation allegedly run out of the Capitol at taxpayers' expense. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

DeWeese issued a statement today citing accomplishments in the Legislature over the past two years, in response to a statewide poll by Quinnipiac University showing voters by a 5-1 margin think he should step down as leader.

DeWeese said it's time to "focus on informing Pennsylvanians about our aggressive agenda for this fall that includes health care, further implementation of our energy agenda and our continued work on reform."

Levdansky said he decided to issue a statement after Deputy House Speaker Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery County, on Monday called on DeWeese to resign as leader.

DeWeese fired back at Shapiro, saying he had been named in the July 10 grand jury presentment. The report did refer to a "Shapiro" in passing who was helped in a campaign by a worker who was slated to receive a $1,000 bonus.

"Josh Shapiro is one of the most thoughtful, conscientious, progressive legislators you could find, and the fact that Bill went after him in a mean-spirited fashion reminds me of the politics of retribution and of divide and conquer that Bill has demonstrated all too often in the past," Levdansky said.

If DeWeese withdrew as a candidate, the party could name a replacement and that might ensure the seat staying in Democratic hands in November, Levdansky said.

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