Daily News Bulletin: Ben Carson drops out of GOP presidential race

Ben Carson drops out of GOP presidential race

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who rose from political obscurity to a strong position in early polls last fall, dropped out of the Republican presidential race Friday after a string of disappointing finishes on Super Tuesday.

Carson told the Conservative Political Action Conference that he is “leaving the campaign trail.”

“Even though I might be leaving the campaign trail, you know there’s a lot of people who love me, they just won’t vote for me,” Carson said, smiling. “But I will still continue to be heavily involved in trying to save our nation.”

Carson said he will serve as national chairman of My Faith Votes, a non-partisan group that is working to dramatically increase voting participation by Christians in the 2016 election and beyond.

Carson’s campaign announcement was hardly a surprise. In a statement on Wednesday, he announced he was skipping Thursday night’s Fox News debate and said he saw no “political path forward” after doing poorly on Super Tuesday. His departure leaves four major candidates in the GOP primary race. He did not endorse anyone Friday.

“I did the math,” Carson said as he explained why he dropped out of the race. “I looked at the delegate counts, and I realized it simply wasn’t going to happen.”

Tuesday’s 11 primaries and caucuses brought no glimmers of hope for Carson, whose campaign has struggled mightily after peaking last fall. He finished no higher than fourth place in any state, with his highest level of support coming in Alaska, where he received a paltry 11%. Across a swath of primaries in the South, with its large number of evangelical voters who at one time were key to his success, Carson fared no better than 8% in any state.

In earlier contests, Carson’s fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses when the field remained large was his best result. He came in eighth in New Hampshire out of nine candidates, last in South Carolina when the field had winnowed to just six, and fourth out of five in Nevada.

An impoverished youth who became a world-renowned neurosurgeon, Carson’s life story helped fuel support in his first political race. At one time, Carson, who road a wave of interest among GOP voters in outsider candidates, passed front-runner Donald Trump in polling in Iowa.

In the long run, however, inexperience, a lack of knowledge about foreign policy and other issues and the departure of key staffers dragged down Carson’s numbers. (USA Today)

South Coast Air Quality Board Fires Executive Officer

Air quality management officials voted Friday to fire a long-time executive officer over protests from various environmental groups and local elected officials.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s governing board announced its decision Friday to part ways with Barry Wallerstein after voting 7-6 behind closed doors.

After finalizing the decision to fire Wallerstein, the board appointed its chief financial officer, Michael O’Kelly, to serve as the interim executive officer.

Groups such as Coalition For Clean Air and other local environmental activists have largely supported Wallerstein, who was named Executive Officer in 1997 and first joined the board in 1984.

Under Wallerstein, the number of days where the air quality exceeded the 2008 federal ozone standard dropped by one third, according to the Coalition For Clean Air.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says a new majority on the governing board put Wallerstein’s job on the chopping block, and says he fears the termination would roll back air quality regulations Wallerstein worked to establish.

“Under Barry and his staff’s impressive leadership, SCAQMD has become a world leader in air quality management, and I will do everything possible to ensure future leadership upholds that reputation and resists rolling back existing regulations that protect the air we breathe,” he said. “We must stay on ambitious path forward that prioritizes the health of our communities, creates green jobs and businesses and advances zero-emission vehicles.” (CBS)

New Star Wars Land Construction at Disneyland to Begin in April

Light sabers, stormtroopers and Jedis are one step closer to arrival at Disneyland, with construction of the “Star Wars” land slated to begin at the Anaheim theme park next month.

At the company’s annual shareholders meeting, Chief Executive Bob Iger said the 14-acre project will be the biggest expansion to the park in decades.

“We’re creating a truly jaw-dropping new world that’s going to transport our guests right into the Star Wars story,” Iger said.

Iger said the new land will have two main attractions, including a pilot ride in Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Earlier this year, the park closed some of its Frontierland attractions to begin planning for the Star Wars expansion.

“We’re creating a truly jaw-dropping new world that’s going to transport our guests right into the Star Wars story,” Iger said.

Iger said the new land will have two main attractions, including a pilot ride in Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Earlier this year, the park closed some of its Frontierland attractions to begin planning for the Star Wars expansion.

“It is the first film in history to exceed $900 million in domestic box office and it has surpassed $2 billion worldwide, more than doubling the last Star Wars movie which was released 10 years ago,” Iger said. “So, clearly the force is with us.”

Iger also said that the next Star Wars movie has already been shot, and that the third has already begun preproduction. (NBC)

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