WASHINGTON -- Republican Senate nominee Tom Blair, saying he was unwilling to commit to a full-time campaign, has abandoned his candidacy against Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.
In a letter dated June 8 to Maryland Republican Party Chairman Daniel Fleming and released Thursday by the national Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Blair said he was withdrawing because of 'intense pressures of personal and business events.'
'I regret my present inability to conduct a full-time campaign to retire Mr. Sarbanes from the Senate,' the letter read. 'He should and can be defeated, but he won't be defeated by anything less than a full-time candidate. To my great regret, I find I simply cannot meet that responsibility.'
Blair, a multimillionaire and co-founder of the suburban Maryland consulting firm of Jurgovan & Blair, was accused by his GOP challengers in the March 8 primary of buying the party's nomination. Blair skipped many debates and rarely met with the news media.
'If Blair had continued (the low-key campaign style) he was following, he probably would've had a tough time defeating Sarbanes,' C. Nelson Warfield, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said Thursday. 'We were all willing to give him a chance to conduct his campaign as he saw fit. We were not too concerned yet.'
With Blair's reported withdrawal, the party's state Central Committee must now elect a replacement to run in November against the popular Sarbanes, whose campaign is well financed.
Warfield said Thursday he wants Rep. Helen Bentley, who represents Maryland's 2nd District, to step in for Blair.
Bentley, whose district includes much of Baltimore County, said she is not a candidate for the Senate and she has no intention of becoming one.