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The Republican nominee in the highly competitive race to replace retiring Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) is dropping out, his campaign confirmed Friday.

New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann, who won the Republican primary in Illinois’ 11th district on Feb. 5, “did not have the time or energy to put forth to the campaign that was required and take care of the responsibilities he had,” an individual close to the campaign told Roll Call on Friday afternoon.

Baldermann’s decision comes after weeks of grumblings that the candidate, who also is the police chief for nearby Chicago Ridge, was proving to be a reluctant fundraiser in the race to replace Weller.

Through the end of 2007, Baldermann’s campaign raised roughly $104,000. In contrast, state Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, a top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruit, raised about $428,000 in 2007.

It remains unclear how and with whom Republicans will replace Baldermann on the November ticket, but the 11th district in the suburbs of Chicago remains a major Democratic pickup opportunity.

Baldermann’s departure marks the second time this cycle a Land of Lincoln House hopeful dropped out of the race midstream. Late last year, former professional basketball coach Dick Versace, another DCCC recruit, abruptly dropped out of contention to replace retiring Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.). Democrats have yet to fill his slot on the November ballot.

— Matthew Murray

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