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Republican Vargas drops out of 14th Congressional District race
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Mark Vargas


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Published: 12/9/2009 12:01 AM | Updated: 12/9/2009 11:09 AM

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Republicans Mark Vargas and Jeff Danklefsen officially dropped out of the race for the 14th Congressional District seat Tuesday in a move both described as being in the best interest of the Republican Party's goal to defeat Democrat Bill Foster in November 2010.

"I believe that the more Republicans we had in this race, the more we'd split up the votes and the better Bill Foster's chances are," Vargas said.

The young Republican said the party did not approach him specifically to ask him to drop out of the race, nor did the party promise support for him should he choose to run for another office down the road. Vargas said he made the decision on his own after meeting privately with Ethan Hastert.

"We were pretty much in sync on every issue," Vargas said. "Ethan has the right message and he has the right organization to win."

Vargas, who was once an intern for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, said he is endorsing Ethan Hastert for the Republican primary in February.

"I certainly have a lot of respect for Ethan," Vargas said. "And I have a lot of respect for his father. This was never about trying to beat Ethan Hastert. I'm ambitious, but I'm also realistic. "

Vargas said he'll remain active in the Republican Party and wouldn't rule out becoming a candidate for public office at some point down the road.

"It's all about timing," Vargas said. "You've just got to wait your turn, and the conditions have got to be just right."

Vargas said he is considering returning to work with the Defense Department.

Late in the day, fellow Republican Jeff Danklefsen announced he is also withdrawing from the race. With Danklefsen and Vargas' departure, only Hastert and Randy Hultgren remain in the Republican primary for this February. Danklefsen announced his support for Hultgren in a short e-mail sent out Tuesday evening.

"I do not wish to be a spoiler," Danklefsen said. "Hultgren gives Republican Party voters a solid choice over the return to the problems that brought us Barack Obama and Bill Foster. He has the voting record and integrity our district desperately needs."