Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is dropping out of the race for the U.S. Senate.
Arkoosh, the highest-profile Democratic woman in the race, made the announcement in an email and video Friday, saying that withdrawing is the best way Pennsylvania Democrats can ensure they pick up the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
“For each of those Pennsylvanians, we cannot let anything stand in the way of a Democrat being elected to the U.S. Senate. The stakes are just too high. And it’s become clear to me that the best way I can ensure that happens is to suspend my campaign today and commit to doing whatever I can to help ensure we flip this Senate seat in November,” Arkoosh said.
The primary election for the race is May 17.
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Arkoosh, an anesthesiologist, shot to prominence thanks to frequent video briefings during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, when Montgomery County became one of the worst-hit in the state.
She parlayed that into a campaign message built, in part, on adding a public option to the health care marketplace and lowering the age eligibility for Medicare recipients.
Arkoosh, however, could not build enough momentum in a Democratic primary field now led by progressive Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and the more moderate U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb.
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Arkoosh received only 17 of 290 votes in the first round of voting in this weekend's Pennsylvania Democratic Party committee meeting.
None of the candidates received enough votes from the Democratic insiders to earn an official party endorsement, though Lamb received 159 of 267 ballots cast in the second round, WLVR reported. Fetterman received 64 votes in the second round, while Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta received 42.