Hayworth's decision reshapes the dynamics for the 2006 governor's race and creates a wide-open field of potential challengers, The Arizona Republic said Thursday.
"We must offer a better alternative and when we do, I am confident that Arizonans will respond to our message and give us an opportunity to provide the leadership that a state of our unbounded promise deserves," Hayworth said in a letter to the Arizona GOP chairman and former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon.
The latest public polls show Napolitano with a comfortable but not insurmountable lead over her most likely Republican rivals.
With Hayworth out, U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, an ally of GOP U.S. Sen. John McCain, may take a look at the race. Former Republican Gov. Fife Symington, who resigned in 1997 after being convicted of bank and wire fraud -- the conviction was overturned on appeal and he received a presidential pardon -- is also looking seriously at the race.