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Cancer Forces Pohl to Drop Assembly Bid

Campaign: Republican challenger to incumbent Hannah-Beth Jackson vows to beat the disease and one day run for office again.


Republican challenger Bob Pohl withdrew Thursday from his race against Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), saying he needs to dedicate his time to fighting a recently diagnosed case of lymphatic cancer.

Pohl, 53, an educational consultant and former president of the Santa Barbara school board, said he found a lump in his thigh three weeks ago, and doctors confirmed his illness a week later after a fund-raiser featuring former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp.

"After a week of intense discussion with my wife, other members of the family and close friends, I decided to end my campaign ... in order to fully take care of my health and my family," Pohl said in a written statement. "My priorities are much different than they were three weeks ago."

Pohl said that while he will seek a second medical opinion today from doctors at UCLA Medical Center, he expects to begin treatment soon to counteract cancer in the lymph glands of his upper thigh.

Pohl said he plans to run again for the 35th Assembly District seat once he has won his battle with cancer. The seat likely would be open in 2004, because Jackson will have completed her third term, the limit for Assembly members, if she defeats two minor party candidates Nov. 5.

"I expect that I will not only survive this illness but that I will emerge from it stronger and a better human being," Pohl wrote. "This announcement is by no means my exit from the political and policy arena ... We could have won this baby."

A former school principal, Pohl had raised about $250,000 to unseat Jackson, and has about $150,000 left for his next race, campaign spokesman Mike Platt said.

Platt said doctors believe they caught Pohl's lymphoma in its early stages.

Jackson said she had just turned her attention to Pohl's challenge after a long legislative session.

"I looked at the next six weeks as a sort of run for the roses, so this news came as a surprise," she said. "My heart goes out to him and his family, and I pray for his full and complete recovery."

Still challenging Jackson are Ventura physician Cary Savitch of the Reform Party and Libertarian Craig Thomas, a music instructor from Ventura.

The 35th Assembly District stretches from northern Santa Barbara County to Ventura and Oxnard in Ventura County.

Redistricting last year made it more favorable for Democrats, who now hold a 44% to 33% advantage over Republicans in registered voters.

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