NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Conservative activist Andy Ogles announced Wednesday that he is dropping his bid for the Republican nomination to succeed Bob Corker in the U.S. Senate.
Ogles is the former state director of Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch's network. He had announced his candidacy before Corker's surprise decision not to seek another term representing Tennessee in the Senate.
"As others hesitated, I was willing to accept the challenge and believed that once his vulnerabilities could be exposed voters would give him a pink slip," Ogles said in a statement.
"With Senator Corker making the decision to exit the Senate at the conclusion of his term rather than being terminated by the voters, the political landscape changed dramatically," he said.
Ogles also cited the dramatic campaign funding advantage held by two other Republicans who have since decided to run: U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Rep. Stephen Fincher.
Nashville car dealer Lee Beaman had formed a super PAC to support Ogles' candidacy in September, pledging to raise $4 million for the cause. But little has been heard from Beaman since Corker decided not to run.
"I do not see a path to raise the millions of dollars needed to run a successful race this election cycle," Ogles said.
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been one of the highest profile critics of Republican President Donald Trump, both before and after his September announcement that he would not run for a third Senate term.
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is being encouraged to run for the Democratic nomination, and is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks. Nashville attorney James Mackler is the only Democrat actively campaigning for the seat, while Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is also considering running.