NAPLES - State Sen. Burt Saunders announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the Republican race for attorney general and will work to elect Charlie Crist as governor.
Saunders, of Naples, said in a statement that he will remain in the Senate through November 2008. Saunders was elected to the Senate in 1998 after four years in the House.
"It is my intention to cease all of my campaign efforts for attorney general and to devote my time and energy working on the campaign to elect Attorney General Charlie Crist as Florida's next governor," Saunders said.
Saunders was badly trailing two of his GOP opponents in fundraising, with only $296,525 raised so far, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.
State Rep. Joe Negron has raised nearly $1.4-million; former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, $596,138. The other remaining GOP candidate in the attorney general's race, state Rep. Everett Rice, has raised $214,200.
The sole Democrat in the race, state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, reported raising $646,725.
Crist's opponent in the Sept. 5 GOP gubernatorial primary is Tom Gallagher, the state's chief financial officer. State Sen. Rod Smith and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis are contending for the Democratic nomination. Term limits prevent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush from seeking a third term.