Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign, saying that he’ll focus his energy on running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.
“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“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.”
The pressure for Paul to drop out of the presidential race had been mounting after spending much of the past six months polling in the single digits.
Paul finished fifth in the Iowa Republican Caucus, taking 4.5 percent of the vote.
The Rand Paul for President committee had a $1.27 million cash balance, with $248,367 in debts/loans, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Paul’s decisions to drop out of the presidential contest will prove financially useful to his Senate bid. WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting notes:
According to the FEC’s Campaign Guide, a withdrawn candidate’s unspent campaign balance can be spent on campaign operating expenses, campaign loan repayments, refunds to contributors, donations to charity and transfers of up to $2,000 to the campaigns of other federal office candidates.
The money cannot go toward personal expenses, although there are exceptions. And candidates seeking more than one federal office can transfer money from the discontinued campaign to the ongoing campaign as long as it does not include contributions that would put donors over their individual per-election contribution limits.
With name recognition and $1.4 million in his U.S. Senate campaign account, Paul has the advantage in the Senate race. But the election won’t be a easygoing.
Paul has two challengers in the Republican primary election in May and in the general election he’ll likely face Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Gray is popular in Lexington and has shown that he’s willing to self-fund his political campaigns, having spent $800,000 on his first run for mayor.
“Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy,” Paul said.
“Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”
Paul’s departure from the GOP presidential race was met with kind words from a couple of the candidates still running.
Dr. @randpaul ended his campaign to return to the Senate. I respect & share his commitment to smaller government & protecting our liberties.
— Jim Gilmore (@gov_gilmore) February 3, 2016
.@RandPaul is an important voice in the GOP & Senate. I respect his passion. -John
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) February 3, 2016
This story has been updated.