Friday, October 31, 2008

Wilkerson Withdraws From Senate Race

Embattled state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson said Friday she is withdrawing from her race for re-election, but she did not resign, despite being under intense pressure to step down. Wilkerson made the announcement at a news conference at the Charles St. AME Church in Roxbury with leaders from the anti-crime Boston TenPoint Coalition and the Black Ministerial Alliance. The leaders planned to hold a news conference to urge Wilkerson to resign, but she spoke with them at the last minute and the 10 a.m. event was delayed two hours to make arrangements for Wilkerson to speak.Wikerson did not take any questions from reporters. She said she will have another statement on her future next Wednesday, the day after Election Day.She was waging a write-in campaign for her seat, after losing a very close Democratic primary to Sonia Chang-Diaz in September.Wilkerson was arrested by the FBI Tuesday and charged with accepting $23,500 from undercover agents she thought were businessmen in exchange for political favors. Senators unanimously passed a resolution Thursday urging her to resign. The non-binding resolution also cites Wilkerson's past legal problems, which include a term of house arrest for failure to pay her income taxes. She also was stripped Thursday of her committee posts, including as chair of the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Senate President Therese Murray said members are upset about the "shadow of doubt" Wilkerson placed on them. On Thursday night, Wilkerson said in a statement that it was unreasonable to ask her to step down immediately. "A decision to leave this district without representation, even for 60 days, is one that cannot and should not be made in a matter of hours," she said. The Senate has also referred Wilkerson's case to its Ethics Committee, which will investigate and report back to the Senate if Wilkerson refuses to step down. Wilkerson is free on $50,000 unsecured bond.

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