NASHVILLE -- Republican Bill Gibbons quit the governor's race Friday, citing an inability to raise enough money to extend his appeal beyond his Shelby County home.
"The problem simply was that we did not have the money to get our message out in the last few months of the political campaign," said Mr. Gibbons, 60, who is Shelby County's district attorney general.
His departure narrows the GOP primary field to a three-man race with U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville; and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.
Mr. Gibbons said his campaign needed to raise $2.5 million with $1 million of that coming by the end of 2009. Instead, he raised about $642,000, he said.
Despite extending his deadline for raising the money, it became clear he would not meet his targets, Mr. Gibbons said.
With him out of the race, Shelby County and what he estimated is 20 percent of the Aug. 5 GOP primary vote is "really up for grabs," he said.
"I think my departure from the race kind of leaves a vacuum in Shelby County, and it'll be interesting to see what the other candidates do."
He said he is not endorsing any candidate and urged his former rivals to come to Shelby County to learn about Memphis issues.
In a statement, Rep. Wamp praised Mr. Gibbons as a "tough" but "friendly and fair competitor," saying he intends to "work extra hard to earn both Bill's support -- and that of his many supporters across the state -- as we work together now to create an even better Tennessee."
Mr. Haslam, whom Mr. Gibbons pointedly criticized for refusing to release his personal income tax records, said the district attorney's "passion for Memphis and issues surrounding public safety and crime has added much to the campaign conversation and discussion."
Lt. Gov. Ramsey said Mr. Gibbons should "be proud of his hard fought race for governor. For the past year, it has been an honor to travel the state alongside such a worthy opponent."
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Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...