FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican Bill Johnson bowed out of the
U.S. Senate race on Wednesday, citing an internal poll that showed
him distantly trailing two better-known GOP candidates.
In doing so, the western Kentucky businessman crushed a widely
held belief that he had entered the race as a spoiler.
Johnson exited the race without endorsing either of his chief
rivals - Bowling Green eye surgeon Rand Paul and Secretary of State
"I just don't think that's the honorable thing to do," Johnson
said. "It's honorable to try to win a race, not to try to spoil a
Paul campaign manager David Adams praised Johnson for the energy
he brought to the campaign.
"Bill Johnson has been a real gamer, and I'm sure we haven't
heard the last of him," Adams said. "The energy he brought to
this race is a sure testimony to the public's desire for an
outsider to shake things up in Kentucky."
Grayson said in a statement that he hopes Johnson, who was
making his first run for public office, remains involved in
"Bill brought a valuable perspective as a businessman and
veteran to the problems created by the federal government and
proposed common sense solutions that we need in Washington,"
Johnson had loaned his campaign some $300,000, and had spent
roughly half of that on newspaper and cable television advertising.
Even with the cash infusion, Johnson trailed the two apparent
front-runners. Paul has raised about $2 million for his primary
race, and Grayson about $1.7 million.
On the campaign trail, Johnson identified himself with former
President Ronald Reagan, calling himself a Reagan conservative both
fiscally and morally.
And Johnson had enlisted the help of nationally known
Republicans, including former presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
Keyes had endorsed Johnson as "a conservative in the true sense of
the word," promoting him for his opposition to abortion and his
opposition to gay marriage.
Johnson's departure leaves five Republicans and five Democrats
vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, who opted not to
seek a third term.
The two leading Democrats, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and
Attorney General Jack Conway, have already begun airing political
ads on TV, as have Paul and Grayson.
Johnson said the internal poll showed him running a distant
third behind Paul and Grayson.
"Simply looking at those numbers, a rational person would have
to say there's no clear path to victory," Johnson said. "As a
businessman, you have to look at the data and make a dispassionate
call. There was just no way to get there."
Johnson said he leaves the race with no regrets.
"Regardless of who wins the primary, I offer my full support to
helping that candidate become our next U.S. senator from
Kentucky," he said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)