Just a week after saying he was sticking in the U.S. Senate race, State Sen. Don Benton dropped out and endorsed the man he labeled the "establishment" candidate, Dino Rossi.
In a press release, Benton, a Vancouver Republican and former chairman of the state party, said the party needs to "consolidate our resources and work together to put our country back on track."
"Therefore, since this campaign has never been about me, I have decided to do what is best for my country, my party, and my fellow Washingtonians: I am stepping aside to endorse Dino Rossi," Benton said in a press release.
Rossi formally entered the race last week, after months of speculation which drained much of the attention from Benton and the dozen or so other Republicans already running. Benton officially entered the race in February, and had raised $121,000 by the end of March; Rossi's campaign said Thursday it raised $600,000 in one week.
After Rossi made his candidacy official last week, Benton vowed to stay in the quest to be one of two candidates to survive the Aug. 17 primary. As a three-term incumbent and the only recognizable Democrat in the race, Patty Murray is expected easily to take one of those spots, leaving one for the crowded field of challengers.
Benton called Rossi a friend, but suggested he had the wrong connections: “We can no longer look to the establishment to turn our economy and our country around. The people want an independent voice that will take on both parties and stand up for common sense and fiscal responsibility.”
All announced candidates must file their paperwork and pay the filing fee by next Friday to have a spot on the primary ballot.