Republican state Treasurer Brian Krolicki announced Tuesday he won't challenge U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who already has raised $6.2 million for his re-election bid.
Krolicki's move leaves the Democratic incumbent with only two confirmed GOP challengers: Richard Ziser, who headed a conservative group that got voter approval in 2002 of an initiative barring recognition of gay marriages; and political unknown Ken Wegner, a disabled Gulf War combat veteran. Reid has no Democratic challenger.
"While I believe this is a credible opportunity for the Republican Party to pick up a coveted seat in the U.S. Senate, the timing of this opportunity is not right for this Republican," Krolicki said.
Krolicki said he didn't want to put his family through the demands of a Senate race, and wanted to keep his commitments, at both the state and national levels, as state treasurer.
Krolicki also said if Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., runs for governor in 2006, he'd consider running for Gibbons' House seat.
While Krolicki said it would be "extremely difficult" to unseat Reid this year, he believes there's still time for a strong Republican candidate to emerge.
Krolicki said he couldn't have matched Reid's campaign funding level, but added, "I never believed that matching Sen. Reid dollar for dollar was a necessity. I thought that with enough resources this race could have been competitive and compelling."
"But certainly the money makes it harder."
Krolicki had raised about $130,000 during an exploratory period that included meetings with Bush political adviser Karl Rove and with the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Secretary of State Dean Heller and State Controller Kathy Augustine, both Republicans, also have been considering possible runs against Reid.
Ziser has $121,000 cash on hand for the race and plans to invest $250,000 of his own money. Wegner plans to sell his land, personal watercraft and Harley-Davidson to pay for his campaign.
Reid, the Senate's minority whip, says he drastically underestimated his Republican challenger in 1998, and isn't making the same mistake this time. He won by only 428 votes over John Ensign, who two years later won Nevada's other U.S. Senate seat.