Arizona Democrat drops out of Senate race

March 28, 2012 - 10:27 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don Bivens, a top Democratic challenger in Arizona's U.S. Senate race, announced Wednesday that he was ending his campaign because a competitive primary battle was draining resources the party needed to win in November.

Bivens' withdrawal clears a path in the Democratic primary for former Surgeon General Richard Carmona. While Bivens, a former state party chairman entered the race first, Democratic officials in Washington made clear they believed that Carmona stood the best chance of winning a general election.

"While I am confident we would win this primary, the cost and impact on the party I've spent my life fighting for could diminish our chance to achieve the ultimate goal — winning in November," Bivens said in a written statement.

Democratic leaders in Washington praised Bivens, but they did him few favors by advocating so aggressively for Carmona.

"Don Bivens has had a diverse and distinguished career in business, law and public service," said Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "His leadership in our party has been critical to our success in Arizona. I know that Don will continue to contribute to our party and our country in the months and years to come."

Democrats have targeted Arizona as an opportunity to win a seat now held by retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.

Rep. Jeff Flake and businessman Wil Cardon are competing in Arizona's Republican primary. Flake is viewed as the heavy favorite.