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Former Rep. Rodriguez Reconsiders Campaign Day After Dropping Out

A former Democratic congressman said Thursday he would reconsider his campaign hours after he dropped out of the crowded free-for-all race against Republican incumbent Rep. Henry Bonilla for a newly-drawn congressional district.

His spokeswoman said supporters urged former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez to stay in the race even though he lacked funds. Rodriguez had said early Thursday that his campaign debt had been reduced to $7,000, from $80,000 in June.

"It's not about money, it's about voters," said Gina Castaneda, who estimated they received more than $2,000 in pledges and donations Thursday.

Rodriguez was unavailable for comment late Thursday. She said he planned to make a decision on the race by the end of Friday.

Rodriguez was one of six Democrats who filed to run in the special election for 23rd Congressional District, which has been represented by Bonilla since 1992 when he was first elected.

"I'm not going to be running and that's my decision based on family and personal reasons," Rodriguez said earlier, adding that he hadn't raised enough money to put up a competitive campaign.

"I don't want that to be construed that Bonilla, that no one can take him, because he's vulnerable."

Bonilla spokesman Phil Ricks said, "I think it makes him look very indecisive and I have to wonder what kind of leadership he's trying to convey."

A federal three-judge panel redrew five districts in August after a Supreme Court ruling that said a 2003 redistricting of Texas' congressional map — led by former House Majority leader Tom DeLay — created a 23rd District that violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting Hispanic voting strength.

The five newly redrawn districts and the seat formerly held by Delay are up for grabs in special elections on Nov. 7, the same day as the general election.

The special races pit all certified candidates against one another in each district, regardless of party. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters in each district will face each other in a runoff in December.

Rodriguez served in Congress from 1997 to 2005.

The other Democrats who filed to run in District 23 are August G. "Augie" Beltran, 58; Rick Bolanos, 57; Adrian DeLeon, 31; Lukin Gilliland, 54; and Albert Uresti, 51. One independent, Craig T. Stephens, 47, also filed to run in the district.

Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams will certify the names of candidates by Sept. 6.