Rep. Gary Condit's support system continued to crumble Thursday as his hometown newspaper joined the chorus of voices urging the California Democrat to step down.
"Gary Condit should think about what's best for his wife, his family and his district and do what's right: Resign from office," said the strongly-worded editorial in the Ceres Courier.
Condit's congressional district has been the victim of his deception in the case of missing federal intern Chandra Levy, editor Jeff Benziger wrote in the Central Valley weekly.
"Condit has yet failed to deliver on his promise to speak to his constituents and time has run out," the paper said. "Condit cannot continue being the hunted media figure that he has become. His district has suffered enough."
After twice denying he had a romantic relationship with Levy, Condit admitted to police in a third interview that he had an affair with the 24-year-old intern. He has never spoken publicly about his relationship with Levy, who has not been seen since April 30.
Although Washington police say the congressman isn't a suspect in Levy's disappearance, they have questioned him several times, searched his apartment and reviewed a lie-detector test arranged by his attorney. Levy's family and some of Condit's colleagues have accused him of not revealing all he knows.
"As long as we still have a missing intern ... Condit will forever be viewed with suspicion," the Courier editorial said. "The media will continue to hound the silent congressman. This is not the type of congressman we need."
Benziger's op-ed, published in this week's edition, came as a surprise. On June 24, the New York Daily News quoted him as predicting the case wouldn't affect Condit's popularity or his elected seat unless compelling evidence turned up.
"I haven't found anybody that believes he had anything to do with her disappearance," Benziger said then. "He's just the darling of his district."
But Thursday, the editor came down hard on the congressman.
"There's no question that at times the national media has gone overboard in ad nauseum coverage," Benziger wrote. "But ... don't blame the media for Condit's problems. Blame Condit."
Levy's disappearance, and the news of her affair with Condit, led to stories of other extramarital relationships the congressman had while he was in Washington. He is said to be spending the August congressional recess in seclusion with his family in Ceres.
The newspaper chastised him for avoiding questions and failing to come forward with all he knows about the Levy case.
"Condit continues to hide out, as if ignoring it long enough will make it go away," the Courier said. "Sadly it may be too late in seeking his district's forgiveness. Condit has badly damaged the trust his constituents have placed in him."