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Former GOP state lawmaker David Hadley announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the gubernatorial race two weeks after he jumped in.
In an evening email to supporters, Hadley said he concluded that he could not win the race despite receiving encouragement since announcing his candidacy.
“No matter how much preparation you put in, there are certain things you cannot learn until you step into the arena,” he wrote. “What I have learned since I announced my candidacy has led me to conclude that I cannot responsibly ask donors, endorsers, volunteers, supporters or my family to invest in this campaign right now… We would not have the time and resources to make the case we need to make to all California voters.”
Past gubernatorial candidates in California have entered the race and dropped out after deciding they could not win, including Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican Tom Campbell in the 2010 contest, though it is difficult to recall anyone making such a move so quickly out of the gate.
Both Newsom and Campbell ran for other offices that year, and some political strategists wondered if Hadley will do the same in the 2018 elections.
Hadley said Wednesday night that he had no intention to seek another office.
The 52-year-old is a social moderate and fiscal conservative who some thought had the potential to galvanize the GOP establishment in next year’s gubernatorial race. The former assemblyman from Manhattan Beach, who was the third prominent Republican to enter the race, said he had won the endorsement of a majority of the state’s GOP legislators and would have raised more than $1 million in July.
Hadley wrote that a factor in his decision was the possibility that because of the state’s top-two voting system, more GOP gubernatorial candidates would make it more likely two Democrats would face off in the general election — a repeat of what happened in the state's 2016 U.S. Senate contest.
“I am not prepared to increase the likelihood of that outcome by pressing on in a crowded field,” he wrote, adding that all donations would be refunded and all of his endorsers were free to back other candidates.
The two remaining Republican candidates in the field are businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach).
Cox, who has poured $3 million into his own bid, on Monday announced he would contribute an additional dollar to himself for every dollar donated to Hadley’s campaign, up to $1 million, in July.
A spokesman for Cox cheered Hadley's decision as best for the state Republican Party on social media.
Hadley did not mention Cox’s announcement in his email to supporters, which caught his own donors and party insiders off guard Wednesday evening.
He did address Cox and Allen, urging them to avoid focusing on tumult in Washington and instead talk about California’s needs. He also urged them to drop out if they could not mount a campaign that has a realistic chance of success — an uphill battle in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 19 points in voter registration.
"Run a race with the plausible goal of winning, or get out of the race," Hadley wrote. "This 2018 governor’s race is too important to have a meaningful debate derailed by selfish politicians who cannot win, but can rob Californians of a real debate in the general election."
8:48 p.m. This article was updated with an additional comment from David Hadley.
8:03 p.m. This article was updated to add context and reaction.
This article was originally published at 6:48 p.m.