WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Sen. Rand Paul has announced Wednesday he's suspending his bid for the White House after a weak showing in the Iowa caucuses.
"Although today I will suspend my campaign for president, the fight is far from over," Paul said in a statement released Wednesday by his campaign. "I will continue to carry the torch for liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."
Paul is facing a challenger for his senate seat back home. He had filed to run for re-election in December, alongside his filing to appear on the Kentucky ballot as a presidential candidate. He's the only senator running for president to have done so.
In January, Lexington, Ky., Mayor Jim Gray filed to run for Paul's seat. While members of both parties have their eyes on the seat, Gray is the first prominent Democrat to challenge Paul. Gray is an openly gay business owner, and told the Lexington Herald Leader in January that his decision to run was partially inspired by Paul's presidential campaign.
"I certainly think that he's been spending more time focused on his presidential campaign than he has in the interests of Kentucky, and because of that he's vulnerable," he said.
Paul's campaign has had the feel of the scrappy underdog, often challenging his disqualification from debates on the basis of low polling. His New Hampshire campaign headquarters was burglarized last week, and on top of that, he was unlikely to meet the polling threshold for the next GOP presidential debate -- a debate with no undercard as a safety net.
Paul is the latest in a series of drop-outs in the steadily shrinking GOP field. His departure from the race comes just two days after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suspended his campaign on the night of the Iowa caucuses. Wisconson Gov. Scott Walker, Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., former New York Gov. George Pataki all dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination last year.
On the Democratic side, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley became the latest drop-out Monday, conceding after he failed to get one percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee all dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination between October and November.