Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Holcomb has dropped out of the race to fill retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ seat.
The former chief of staff for Coats submitted his petition to withdraw from the race late Monday morning and later issued a statement saying he and his wife "believe we have been called to serve our beloved state in a different capacity." He did not elaborate.
Holcomb—a former state GOP chairman and aid to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels—struggled to raise money against his two primary opponents, conservatives U.S. Rep. Todd Young and U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman.
"Although you don’t ever have to have the most money to win an election, you have to have enough money," said Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Politics in Fort Wayne. Holcomb "was quite a ways from having enough money."
Holcomb raised about $507,000 in the race in 2015 and ended the year with about $227,000 cash on hand. But Young raised $2.1 million during that period, and had more than $2.2 million in cash at the end of the year. Stutzman earned about $1.7 million in contributions in 2015, and ended the year with $1 million in available cash.
However, Holcomb had nabbed a number of endorsements from local party leaders and elected officials. His decision to drop out likely benefits Young the most. The two are considered more establishment candidates. Stutzman is a favorite of the tea party and the more conservative wing of the party.
"What both of them have to do now is to start courting the endorsements and donors that Holcomb has," Downs said. If one of the remaining candidates could get Holcomb's endorsement, that would be a big start, he added.
Young issued a statement lauding Holcomb's "willingness and a desire to tackle big problems by offering big solutions."
"Competing with my friend Eric has made me a better candidate," Young said. "Eric's voice is an important one and I know he will continue to play a leading role in our state and our party for many years to come."
In his statement, Holcomb said he looks "forward to announcing soon how I will serve our state in the years to come."
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