Mark Shurtleff (R)
Bob Bennett (R)
SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday he was dropping out of the U.S. Senate race.
Shurtleff said he decided not to challenge fellow Republican Sen. Bob Bennett next year so he could spend more time with his 17-year-old daughter who suffers from mental illness and is in a residential treatment facility.
"Today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign for the U.S. Senate," Shurtleff said in a statement. "This announcement comes with sorrow because I do want to serve my country, and I do believe both political parties have put this nation in grave danger by spending so foolishly that our children and grandchildren will have a difficult time recovering."
Shurtleff made the surprise announcement on the Doug Wright Show on KSL Newsradio Wednesday morning.
"Even though she's in a facility, the participation we have to do, the things we have to accomplish so she can progress and get well necessitates a substantial amount of time," he told listeners. "So I am suspending my Senate campaign."
Shurtleff has five adoptive children, three of whom he says came from families with drug and alcohol problems. His daughter had twice tried to commit suicide.
He was considered Bennett's top challenger. Bennett faces primary challenges from former Utah County Republican Party Chairman Tim Bridgewater and businesswoman Cherilyn Eagar.
Bennett was reelected in 2004 with 69 percent of the vote in the Beehive State.
Shurtleff had hammered Bennett, who is in his third term, over such things as the senator's support for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief program, or TARP program for struggling banks, and over his legislation that would require employers to pay a portion of their employees' health benefits.
"Bennett is vulnerable," Shurtleff said in an earlier interview with Legal Newsline. "He is not in touch with the people out in Utah."
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.