21st District race narrows

And then there were seven.

Five Democrats and two Republicans remain in the hunt for a congressional seat in the state's 21st District after four candidates were forced to drop out of the race because of either their inability to collect the state-mandated number of petition signatures or raise sufficient funds to continue.

Candidates were required to submit 1,250 signatures to the state Board of Elections by Thursday, July 10, in order to remain in the race.

Democrats Arthur Welser, Craig Burridge, John Aretakis and Lester Freeman all dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Welser and Burridge cited their inability to collect enough signatures as their reason for exiting the race. Welser, a real estate agent, said he thought his campaign came to a halt when he failed to gain an endorsement from local Realtors.

I had trouble getting people to get out and petition for me, said Welser.

Burridge echoed Welser's sentiments.

"People made promises that they didn't keep to carry my petitions," said Burridge.

Aretakis, an attorney, said he withdrew from the political showdown to concentrate on clergy sexual abuse litigation and activism.

"I'm balancing a lot of things," said Aretakis. "My real message has been changing the laws regarding sexual abuse of children."

Freeman cited financial difficulties as his reason for bowing out, despite collecting 3,000 petition signatures.

"It was simply financing the campaign. We had the support, we had the voters, we had more than enough signatures to run, we had all of that," Freeman said. "We made it to the ballot, but then we asked if we had the money to bring this puppy home."

Much like this year's presidential race, the race to fill the seat of outgoing Congressman Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, began earlier than anticipated.

The race began in December when Phil Steck announced his intentions to run for office.

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