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Stephanie Villafuerte removes herself from U.S. Attorney sweepstakes

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On Friday, when Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions asked that consideration of Stephanie Villafuerte's nomination as U.S. Attorney be delayed because her record is "incomplete," I wrote that the story was developing at "lightning speed," and noted that political pressure generated by a letter from Representative Mike Coffman to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an investigation would be multiplied tenfold.

Today, that pressure caused the Villafuerte forces to crack. The Denver Post is reporting that Villafuerte has asked for her nomination to be withdrawn owing to "political attacks" over alleged connections to the Cory Voorhis matter.

An excerpt from the letter Villafuerte sent to Holder and President Barack Obama reads: "Unfortunately, a needless and extraneous political fight has emerged in Colorado and that fight, in my judgment has completely overshadowed the deliberative and independent assessment of my qualifications for this important office. I continue to stand by my statements and maintain that my involvement was appropriate at all times."

The move, though painful for Villafuerte and her supporters, makes perfect sense from a political standpoint. The actions of Sessions, Coffman and Colorado GOP head Dick Wadhams made it clear the Republicans weren't going to drop their objections. So, with Governor Bill Ritter facing a tough re-election campaign next year, why not take their lumps now, hoping that by the time balloting takes place, the whole mess will be a distant memory rather than a fresh wound?

The Republicans will try to keep the scandal going, of course, and they've got ammo given the likelihood of an investigation at the local ICE branch relating to Voorhis' dismissal. The Dems, for their part, will try to move on as quickly as possible -- and Colorado Pols is already speculating that Pueblo DA Bill Thiebaut will be the next U.S. Attorney choice.

Seems like a controversy-free pick. Then again, who'da thunk the Villafuerte nomination would end in smoking ruins?

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