PHOENIX — Businessman Steve Gaynor announced Thursday that he's bowing out of the race for the Republican nomination for Arizona governor, saying he saw little hope of winning in the crowded field despite internal polling that showed he'd fare better against fewer competitors.
Gaynor said survey results showed he would be competitive in a head-to-head race with any of the three top Republicans seeking the nomination. In a three-way race, he said his polling showed a reasonable chance of winning, but little if any hope in a four-way race.
“I am nothing if not a rational decision-maker, and I therefore have decided to suspend my campaign for governor,” he said in a statement.
Gaynor is the second well-known Republican to leave the race, following state Treasurer Kimberly Yee's January decision to instead seek a second term in her current office.
His exit leaves three top GOP candidates and two lesser known names to slug it out for the chance to take on the Democratic nominee in November. Former television news anchor Kari Lake, developer Karrin Taylor Robson and former congressman Matt Salmon are leading Republican contenders and will appear with two others on the Aug. 2 GOP primary ballot.
Gaynor announced he was seeking the GOP nomination last June, penning a letter to Republicans that highlighted border security, election integrity, water supplies, education and “critical race theory.” That's a catch-all phrase for any teaching in schools about race and American history and a rallying cry for some conservatives who take issue with how schools have addressed diversity and inclusion.
He said in a statement that he entered the race because he was angry about the direction of the nation and knew he could lead the way in solving the problems.
“After months on the campaign trail, and with due respect to my competitors, I remain convinced that my business skills and leadership style make me the best choice for Governor,” Gaynor said.
Salmon said in a statement that Gaynor brought “professionalism, business acumen, and smart policy ideas to the table – all sorely needed in this country.”
He thanked Gaynor and hinted that Gaynor's ideas will be helpful if he wins the race.
Democrats in the primary race include Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, former lawmaker Aaron Lieberman and Marco Lopez, a former Nogales mayor and Obama Administration border official.
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