Citing "pressing personal challenges" and a lack of funds, retired Lt. Gen. Ric Sanchez, the sole major Democratic candidate to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said Friday he was dropping out of the Texas race.
In an email to supporters Friday afternoon, Sanchez thanked those who had encouraged him to run but said he needed to put his family first.
"I am very grateful for the strong support and encouragement I have received from supporters across the country and the wonderful Texans I have met in every part of our great state," Sanchez said. "However, pressing personal challenges, coupled with the recent loss of our home due to fire and lagging fundraising numbers make a statewide election campaign impractical for me at this time."
While the Republican field to replace Hutchison is extremely crowded, Sanchez was the only major candidate from the Democratic party.
Hutchison announced earlier this year that she was retiring.
Many Democratic strategists hoped that Sanchez, who was born in the Rio Grande Valley, could marshal votes from the state's growing Hispanic population. But many liberals felt he was a flawed candidate because he was the commanding general in Iraq when the abuses against Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison took place.
The official filing period for prospective candidates ends Monday. But because of ongoing litigation over political redistricting in Texas, the filing period will reopen after a federal court approves a final district map, likely in late January, and remain open until Feb. 1.
A new Democratic candidate could emerge once the courts decide the districts for the Texas House, Texas Senate and U.S. Congress. If the court's decision hurts Democratic chances for Congress, some of those politicians might consider switching to the Senate race.
No Democrats hold statewide office in Texas, and the predominantly Republican state is unlikely to elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2012. But Democratic leaders had hoped to run at least a mildly competitive candidate to force Republicans to spend money on the Senate race.
The Texas Democratic Party had no immediate comment Friday evening.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.