Top Democratic recruit drops out of Nebraska House race

Pete Festersen, whom Democrats had hoped could make Rep. Lee Terry's (R-Neb.) district competitive in 2014, is dropping out of the race.

Festersen told the Omaha World-Herald on Monday that he's exiting the race because he's had trouble balancing the demands of a campaign with his work and family responsibilities.

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“It is the right time for moderate, practical-minded people to make a difference, but I've determined it's not the right time for me or my young family to run for national office,” Festersen said.

Terry has long been a Democratic target, as he's posted slim-win margins throughout his career, and Democrats aggressively recruited Festersen into the race.

His decision not to run leaves the party without a clear candidate in the race and makes Terry's path to reelection easier.

Festersen, an Omaha city councilman, had initially decided not to run earlier this summer, but changed his mind partly due to the government shutdown, which caused Republicans to suffer a significant hit in the polls.

That development boosted Democratic optimism over the party's chances of taking back the house, and prompted a handful of other top-tier recruits to enter competitive races.

Festersen was named a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Jumpstart candidate shortly after he entered the race, a designation for the party's top recruits that comes with financial and operational support from the committee.

But he had struggled to raise funds in the early months of the race.

National Democrats downplayed the development, noting they expect two other top-tier recruits to jump into competitive races on Tuesday.

But National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek called Festersen's exit a "fail," and tied it to continued troubles with the rollout of ObamaCare that have plagued Democrats in recent weeks.

"This is the biggest and most humiliating recruitment fail of the year for House Democrats, and they don’t have anyone to blame but themselves. Their continued commitment to ObamaCare is not only costing them votes, it is now costing them their star candidates," she said.