Lewis, a conservative minister, made the announcement at his campaign headquarters, citing in part a desire to avoid a contentious Republican primary that would damage the eventual nominee. He did not endorse either Arnold-Jones or the other Republican in the race, Gary Smith.
“I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the 2012 congressional race today to prevent a costly, party-splitting primary campaign,” Lewis said in a statement. “The democrats have made it clear they will hold nothing back, true or not, to cling to this congressional seat. Their candidates have already raised over a half million dollars. A contentious Republican primary will waste much goodwill and badly needed funds better spent in November campaign’s against a heavily financed democrat opponent.
Lewis won 34 percent of the delegate vote, nearly half the 63 percent vote won by Arnold-Jones.
“I’m proud of what we did at that convention, but certainly that weighs in. There are many factors that weigh into a decision like this. It hasn’t come easy,” Lewis said during a news conference at his campaign headquarters in Albuquerque today.
Immediately after his pre-primary loss, Lewis emphasized his strong fundraising advantage over Arnold-Jones. Through December, when campaign finance reports were last compiled, Lewis had raised $223,000 compared to Arnold-Jones’ $81,000.
Arnold-Jones, however, has said she has been successful in campaign fundraising since December. The next round of campaign finance reports run through the end of March.
Lewis on Tuesday declined to say whether his No. 2 showing at the party convention had hindered his ability to raise new money for the ongoing primary fight.
“To win these races, it takes a lot of money. It takes a lot of momentum. .. And it is extremely difficult,” Lewis said.
Early in the race, Lewis appeared to be the favorite of the Washington Republican establishment. He had received an “On the Radar” designation from the National Republican Congressional Committee just a few weeks ago.
Here’s Lewis’s complete statement:
“I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the 2012 congressional race today to prevent a costly, party-splitting primary campaign. The democrats have made it clear they will hold nothing back, true or not, to cling to this congressional seat. Their candidates have already raised over a half million dollars. A contentious Republican primary will waste much goodwill and badly needed funds better spent in November campaign’s against a heavily financed democrat opponent.
“In this congressional campaign, the democrats have fielded three recycled liberal career politicians peddling more big government schemes that further cripple the economic recovery we need so badly. I believe my decision today will increase the odds that our next congressman will represent the people, not continue to be another rubber stamp for more government and less liberty.
“Our campaign has stood for solid social and fiscal conservative principles of less government, less taxes, less regulation, more American innovation, more American energy, free markets, and private industry. Guided by these proven principles, not by tacking to the center—whether nationally or here in New Mexico, will the Republican Party lead America to strength and prosperity.
“I am truly thankful for the encouragement and support so many of you have shown me and my family during this campaign. It is difficult to describe how much that has meant to us. Hundreds of people volunteering countless hours of their time have fueled this campaign and enabled me to meet and reach thousands of new friends across the first congressional district. Tracy and I will never forget your kindness and sacrifice.
“My dedication as an Albuquerque city councilor fighting for our families and small businesses has been deepened by this experience. I am also committed to help end the corrupt, one-party domination of our state by helping conservative Republicans win elections throughout New Mexico.
“I look forward to the future knowing there will be many challenging opportunities ahead for me to help and serve the people as a public servant, community pastor, and local small business owner.”