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Political analysts predict defeat for Condit

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Several political analysts predicted Monday that Rep. Gary Condit, a California Democrat, won't win re-election because of the scandal over a missing government intern that subsumed him this past summer.

Charlie Cook, a CNN political analyst and author of the Cook Political Report, said he didn't think Condit could even expect to win his party's backing.

"Nobody expects Condit to win that nomination," Cook said

Analyst Stuart Rothenberg, author of the Rothenberg Political Report, agreed. He said Condit appears to be relying on the fact that coverage of the war on terrorism has distracted attention from the scandal.

"Maybe Condit assumes that changes his overall outlook," Rothenberg said. "But what we all remember about Gary Condit is what we last heard, which is the scandal and his performance and his apparent lack of forthrightness. I think that's what voters -- I know that's what voters are going to remember."

Condit's decision to seek re-election was greeted with either silence or criticism by Democratic leaders.

Sandy Lucas, with the Stanislaus County Democratic Committee in California, said Condit's campaign could hurt other Democrats.

"The polls show that not only would he lose to the Republican candidate, but he would also affect our winning the State Senate and Assembly races in this area," Lucas said.

Friday, 40 minutes before a filing deadline, Condit arrived at the Stanislaus County Courthouse and submitted paperwork declaring his candidacy.

Condit's political plans had been the subject of much speculation since this past summer, when he became embroiled in a scandal over a missing government intern, Chandra Levy, with whom he was romantically linked.

He spoke about his decision to seek an eighth term in the 18th Congressional District.

"It was a tough decision, but I've represented the valley for a long time and I have a great record in Congress, a great record in serving the public..." he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to focus on my record."

Asked about the "Levy affair," he told reporters, "You guys will have to decide if you're going to be fair to me or not."

Condit, a 53-year-old married grandfather, admitted to an affair with Levy, 24, in an interview with police, sources said, but he has never publicly acknowledged such a relationship. A series of interviews this summer in which he sought to explain himself were roundly criticized, and several local Democratic leaders said they did not think he should seek re-election.

Condit came under fire for waiting so long to disclose to investigators the nature of his relationship with Levy, a delay that critics charged impeded the search for the young woman.

Unlike previous elections, Condit is expected to face a tough primary battle.

The strongest rival, according to analysts, is Dennis Cardoza, a state assemblyman and former aide.

Levy, whose family lives in Condit's California district, was last seen in Washington April 30, shortly after her internship ended with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She was planning to return home to California.

Last month, Condit was served with a subpoena by the U.S. attorney's office investigating Levy's disappearance.

The subpoena sought unspecified documents. A grand jury approved the request from the FBI and District of Columbia Police, now in their seventh month of their investigation.


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