Wealthy businessman Andrew Saul announced today that he is dropping out of the race against Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), citing unnamed "personal reasons" for his departure.
His withdrawal leaves Republicans without any politically seasoned candidates to challenge the freshman congressman in a GOP-leaning district.
First reported by the Rothenberg Political Report, the announcement came as a shocking development, given Saul's recent fundraising success. Saul’s ability to both raise money and to self-fund a campaign made him an attractive candidate in an expensive district to advertise in.
Saul was one of the top fundraisers among all Republican challengers in the third quarter, banking over $452,000 in his campaign account at the end of September. He also spent his money at a very high rate early on, leading some GOP operatives to privately question his strategy.
Hall had banked $800,000 at the end of the third quarter, according to his latest financial reports.
No other Republicans have announced their candidacies. Iraq war veteran Kieran Michael Lalor has formed an exploratory committee, but has shown few signs he can raise enough money and develop the necessary infrastructure to mount a serious challenge.
Saul’s campaign spokesman said in an interview last month that his “number one issue” would be refusing to accept money from political action committees – an unusual theme, given that nearly every member of Congress (and most candidates) accept such funding.
His withdrawal marks another blow for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which now is left without a viable candidate to run against a freshman member in a Republican-leaning district. (Over the past week, they've had to deal with the retirements of two New Jersey Republicans in highly competitive seats.)
The district, based in the lower Hudson Valley, gave President Bush 54 percent of the vote in 2004. Hall, a former lead singer for the rock band Orleans, upset former GOP Rep. Sue Kelly 51 to 49 percent in 2006.