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Alan Khazei and Rep. John Olver bow out, clearing things up for Massachusetts Dems

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Things are falling into place for Massachusetts Democrats, after two politicians cleared up their future plans Wednesday.

Senate candidate Alan Khazei — the best-funded primary opponent of Democratic favorite Elizabeth Warren — announced he was dropping out of the race. And Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) announced that he will not seek reelection, in a move that eases a potentially tough redistricting process for the state’s line-drawers.

CityYear founder Khazei told the Boston Globe that he was dropping out of the primary to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the face of overwhelming enthusiasm for Warren, a former adviser to President Obama and Harvard professor.

Alan Khazei speaks in Lowell, Mass., earlier this month during a debate between six Massachusetts Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Scott Brown. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Khazei has repeatedly argued that Warren should not simply be handed the nomination, but it seems he could not compete with her star power.

“She has struck a chord, no doubt about it,” Khazei told the paper. “It’s definitely affected my position. So fundraising has been tougher, and in terms of (getting) attention.”

He plans to make his withdrawal official on Thursday.

Khazei also ran in the 2009 special election for the seat Brown now holds. He raised a significant amount of money but came in a distant third in the primary. This cycle, he again showed himself to be a formidable fundraiser, but that money dried up once Warren got in the race.

In the House, the 75-year-old Olver had said after the 2010 election that he planned to seek reelection. But his wife was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“Over the past six months, circumstances within my family have substantially changed, and I now find I must reconsider my earlier decision,” Olver said. “Therefore, I will retire from the House of Representatives at the conclusion of the current Congress.”

Olver’s decision means his Western Massachusetts 1st district is the most likely candidate for elimination, with the state’s line-drawers having to cut one of the state’s 10 districts due to population shifts in the 2010 Census. All 10 districts are held by Democrats, which meant the Democratic state legislature faced the possibility of pitting two Democratic incumbents against one another.

The population in Western Massachusetts hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the state, so Olver’s district was already a strong candidate for elimination.

Olver is the seventh House Democrat to announce his retirement, while eight others are running for other office. Republicans have no outright retirements so far, but six members are running for higher office.

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