By JONATHAN J. COOPER
PHOENIX (AP) — Democrat Aaron Lieberman ended his campaign for Arizona governor Friday, saying there’s no viable path to victory.
Lieberman, a former state lawmaker from Paradise Valley, struggled to gain traction against the Democratic front-runner, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has built a national profile as a staunch defender of Arizona’s election.
“It is clear to me that there’s just not a realistic path forward in this race this year, and I owe it to all the people who have so generously supported our campaign to be honest with them about what the path ahead would look like,” Lieberman said in a statement.
He thanked his supporters and said electing a Democratic governor “will be a top priority of mine over the next few months.”
Lieberman founded two organizations focused on early childhood education before being elected to the Legislature in 2018. He’s developed a reputation as a moderate during two terms in the House. He resigned last year to focus on his campaign for governor.
In an announcement video released last summer, Lieberman presented himself as an entrepreneur and pragmatic problem solver.
“When we turn the page on this pandemic, let’s turn the page on our politics too,” Lieberman said in the video.
More recently, he tried to jumpstart his campaign with a television ad proclaiming, “right now, Arizona’s politics are a dumpster fire.”
Through the end of March, Lieberman reported raising just over $1.4 million for his campaign, trailing both Hobbs and the other Democrat in the race, former Nogales Mayor and Obama administration border official Marco Lopez.
Hobbs and Lopez both thanked Lieberman for his contributions to the race.
“I look forward to the fight ahead 一 as we all come together and stand up to those who are threatening our basic freedoms in Arizona,” Hobbs wrote on Twitter.
Lopez said running for office is “incredibly courageous.”
“Aaron has been adamant that we need a governor who puts education and our working families first; one who’s not afraid to speak directly to the voters and speak out against hate and discrimination,” Lopez said in a statement.