“It was in the speaker’s best interest that there be some clarity here, and we were willing to do the right thing and step out,” Mitchell said.
Nahabedian will still appear on June 8 ballots as a candidate for the primary contest, even though voters will also be making a choice between Gatto and Republican Sunder Ramani for who should fill the remainder of the unexpired term ending Nov. 30.
With two contests happening on the same day, Perez was concerned that voters would be confused, especially because Nahabedian would have to campaign against Gatto for the primary nomination while Gatto would be simultaneously seeking support for the runoff election, Mitchell said.
“Even if we had abundant confidence that we could win in the June primary, the fact is that we would only be doing it out of selfishness, and in doing so we would probably be jeopardizing the Democrats’ ability to hold on to this seat that we’ve held on to for the last 16 years,” he said.
Gatto, an attorney, declined to comment on Nahabedian’s decision to drop out of the race, saying he was concentrating on state problems.
“I’m focused on working as hard as possible to solve the issues of the state up in Sacramento, and that remains my focus,” he said.
Nahabedian, who finished third in the April 13 special election primary with 22% of the vote, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
She posted a letter on her website over the weekend thanking supporters and expressing disappointment at the April results, although the letter did not clearly state whether she would continue campaigning for the seat.
“The numbers on Tuesday did not go our way,” she said in the letter.