The race to replace City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski in her district covering Port Richmond and parts of the Northeast lost its front-runner Tuesday when State Rep. Michael McGeehan announced he would not pursue the Council seat.

After a tense standoff between ward leaders who supported former school board member Martin G. Bednarek, McGeehan this morning stepped out of the race in a press release as he was being sworn-in for his 11th two-year term in his river-ward 173d District. McGeehan was just appointed to minority chair of the House Transportation Committee -- the first Philadelphian to hold the position in modern times, he said.

"After meetings with House Democratic leadership, talking with state transportation stakeholders and following a great deal of soul-searching over the holidays, I concluded that I couldn't run for City Council, continue to represent the needs of my constituents and simultaneously be an effective advocate for critical transportation needs," McGeehan said.

McGeehan was backed for the Democratic primary in May 2011 by Krajewski, who plans to retire when her term ends in January 2012, but Bednarek also had support.

"My sincerest thanks to my family, friends, neighbors, business and union leaders, ward leaders and elected officials, and the many residents who encouraged and supported my potential Council candidacy," added McGeehan. "I hope they will understand and accept my decision, and I pledge to continue to work closely with them in the years ahead."

Bednarek, appointed by Mayor Nutter in January 2010 to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, is the President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors at Washington Savings Association. He served on the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) from 2003 to 2008, and on its predecessory, the Philadelphia Board of Education from March 2000 until December 2001.

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