Albuquerque city councilor Dan Lewis made it official on Tuesday and dropped out of the 1st congressional district race, leaving an all-but clear path to the Republican nomination for former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. Lewis made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday morning and said he was dropping out because he “did not want to split the party.”
“This has been a great journey and I’m really grateful for all of you,” Lewis told the supporters who stood behind him while he made the announcement.
Retired Army Sergeant Gary Smith is also still in the race.
Lewis said that there were a number of factors that weighed into his decision not to run when asked by a reporter whether or not the results of the pre-primary convention, which had Lewis as a distant-second to Arnold-Jones, on Saturday aided in his departure from the race.
“When you make a decision like this, it isn’t any one thing,” Lewis said.
He also cited fundraising woes, which have plagued the Republican candidates in the district. All three Republican candidates have been out fundraised by all three Democratic candidates.
Lewis declined to endorse Arnold-Jones, noting that Smith has not dropped out of the race yet.
“I’m sure that in every primary, a candidate will rise to the top that goes through the rigors of the campaign like this,” Lewis said.
Lewis also cited the Republican presidential primary as perhaps and example of a difficult, long primary that could hurt the party’s chances in the general election.
He did manage to get a shot in against the three Democratic candidates, admitting that they were “very solid” but “very liberal” and noted that they had all ran for office before.
As late as Sunday, Lewis had pledged to stay in the race.
Former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez, State Sen. Eric Griego and County Commissioner Michelle Lujan-Grisham all made the ballot in the pre-primary convention and are still campaigning for the June 5 nomination o the Democratic side of things.
Update (12:05 pm):
Here is Lewis’ statement.
Update (3:30 pm):
Video, courtesy our friends at New Mexico In Focus: