Senate hopeful, Barrack Obama, appeared set to take over the Illinois Senate seat after
his main rival, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race on Friday night amid a furor over lurid
sex club allegations.
The allegations that horrified fellow
Republicans and caused his once-promising candidacy to implode in four short days have
given Obama a clear lead as Republicans struggled to fetch an alternative.
Ryans campaign began to crumble on
Monday following the release of embarrassing records from his divorce. In the records, his
ex-wife, Boston Public actress Jeri Ryan, said her former husband took her to kinky sex
clubs in Paris, New York and New Orleans.
"Its clear to me that a vigorous
debate on the issues most likely could not take place if I remain in the race," Ryan,
44, said in a statement. "What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth
campaign the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of
politics I refuse to play."
Although Ryan disputed the allegations,
saying he and his wife went to one avant-garde club in Paris and left because
they felt uncomfortable, lashed out at the media and said it was "truly
outrageous" that the Chicago Tribune got a judge to unseal the records.
The Republican choice will become an
instant underdog in the campaign for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Peter
Fitzgerald, since Obama held a wide lead even before the scandal broke.
"I feel for him actually," Obama
told a Chicago TV station. "What hes gone through over the last three days I
think is something you wouldnt wish on anybody."
The Republican state committee must now
choose a replacement for Ryan, who had won in the primaries against seven contenders. Its
task is complicated by the fact that Obama holds a comfortable lead in the polls and is
widely regarded as a rising Democratic star.
The chairwoman of the Illinois Republican
Party, Judy Topinka, said at a news conference, after Ryan withdrew, that Republicans
would probably take several weeks to settle on a new candidate.
"Obviously, this is a bad week for our
party and our state," she said.
As recently as Thursday, spokesmen for the Ryan campaign
still insisted that Ryan would remain in the race. Ryan had defended himself saying,
"Theres no breaking of any laws. Theres no breaking of any marriage laws.
Theres no breaking of the Ten Commandments anywhere."