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State Sen. Annette Dubas announced Monday she is withdrawing from the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial race.

"While my belief in this candidacy, and what I stood for, never wavered," Dubas said, "it became apparent to me that campaign life was taking its toll on me and my family."

Dubas made her announcement in the Capitol Rotunda with her husband, Ron, standing at her side. The Fullerton state senator accepted no questions from the media and departed immediately after the announcement.

Reading between the lines, it seemed clear that Dubas decided the rigors of a statewide campaign combined with her duties as a state senator did not leave her the time she needs to devote to being a wife and mother.

"Even with our best-laid plans, it became harder and harder to continue to attend to family matters, serve my legislative constituents and campaign for governor," she said.

Dubas' announcement came as a surprise because she had been steadily building her gubernatorial campaign and making progress on the fundraising front. 

The sudden withdrawal leaves a clear Democratic field for former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons and marks the fourth departure of a major candidate in what has developed into a bizarre 2014 election cycle.

Earlier, former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, former Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and Falls City businessman Charles Herbster all withdrew from the 2014 Republican gubernatorial race. 

Flood and Herbster stepped back due to family health issues, and Sheehy's candidacy ended abruptly when he resigned as lieutenant governor under fire.

While Hassebrook praised Dubas as "an excellent state senator," Democratic State Chairman Vince Powers expressed disappointment that she had withdrawn from the race. 

"Dubas was a dynamic candidate who inspired many Nebraskans across the state," Powers said.

Democrats had hoped for an attention-gathering gubernatorial primary contest rather than a single candidate who may have difficulty attracting media coverage before the May election. In sharp contrast, the spotlight is likely to focus on a five-candidate Republican primary scrap that may grow even larger.     

In her announcement at the Capitol, Dubas noted that family had been one of the values she cited when she announced her candidacy two months ago.

"And today, it is with my family in mind that I announce that I am withdrawing as a candidate," she said.

With all the time pressures of family, the Legislature and a statewide campaign, Dubas said, "something had to give."

"As with many experiences in life, one can never fully prepare for or understand the demands until it becomes a reality.

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"The higher the office, the more the demands on time, energy, financial resources and emotions."

Dubas said she will continue to pursue her policy priorities as a member of the Legislature.

"We must ensure that citizens with disabilities and their families are treated with respect and receive the services they need, which allow them self-respect and the ability to be contributing members of their communities.

"Foster families need our gratitude, support and the resources to take care of children who need a soft place to land when their lives are in turmoil."

Dubas said she will continue to support adequate funding for early childhood education and mental health services.

"I will work to move Medicaid expansion forward," she said, and strive to provide property tax relief.

"We have a lot of work to do, and I'm not done."

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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