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Harriman drops from US House race in southern Ill., cites illness

(via Brad Harriman for Congress website)

Updated 1:53 p.m. with statements from Costello, Plummer

The Democratic nominee for a southern Illinois congressional seat being vacated by Jerry Costello says he's dropping out of the race for medical reasons.

Democrat Brad Harriman says his withdrawal from the 12th Congressional District race comes after he talked with his doctor about what he calls a noticeably worsening neurological condition that now requires surgery.

The former regional education administrator didn't disclose the ailment he says he's endured since 2010, although he says it isn't life-threatening.

Harriman had been challenging Republican Jason Plummer for the seat Costello is leaving.

Plummer responded to Harriman's announcement:

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Brad and his family as he deals with his medical condition. He had a distinguished career as an educator and leader in the area, and I wish him the best. While I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him on the campaign trail, this race was never about Brad or myself. This race is about and will be about Southern Illinoisians electing a congressman who will represent their values and fight the ballooning federal government. My campaign will continue to provide residents of the 12th District a new direction to shrink the size of government, reduce regulations on small businesses and best utilize the natural resources of our state."

So, what about Costello joining the race in Harriman's absence? And what's the process to fill the vacancy left by Harriman? Costello explains in his statement:

"Brad's decision to end his campaign due to health problems is understandable, and I wish Brad the very best in the future. The law is very clear on the procedure to select a successor.  The Democratic party chairs from each ofthe12 counties in the congressional district will meet to decide on a candidate to fill the vacancy.  Each chairman will have a weighted vote based on the number of Democratic votes cast in the March primary election in their respective county. Under the law, as the elected Democratic state central committeewoman and committeeman, Barb Brown and I will co-chair the selection committee and will recommend that they follow an open process to select the most qualified candidate.  Committeewoman Brown and I will discuss the process with the 12 county chairs and make a public announcement soon. As you know, I announced last October that I will not seek re-election, and I am not going to reconsider and will not be a candidate for re-election."

Only two men, both Democrats, have represented the 12th District since World War II. The district runs from the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis to the state's southernmost tip.