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      Bill Halter drops out of race for governor

      LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Bill Halter has dropped his 2014 bid for governor.

      Halter first made the announcement in an e-mail to supporters, citing "another strong candidate" and wanting to "avoid a divisive primary and to help unite the Democratic Party."

      With Halter out, former Congressman Mike Ross is the only Democrat running for the office. Former NATO Commander Wesley Clark endorsed Ross' bid on July 20.

      Confirmed candidates pursuing the Republican nomination include former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, State Rep. Debra Hobbs, and Little Rock Businessman Curtis Coleman.

      Halter's entire statement read:

      Dear _________,You're one of my most valuable supporters, so I wanted you to hear this first,and direct from me.By a combination of work, luck, and your support, I have benefited from greatopportunities. About half of my career has been spent in the private sectorworking with innovative companies and the other half in public service,including in the White House Budget Office, as the Chief Operating Officer ofSocial Security, and as Lieutenant Governor. None of these opportunities couldhave happened without help from some of you, and some of these opportunitiescould not have happened without help from almost all of you. I am grateful toyou.I believe that we ought to be a society where everyone has the chance to liveup to their God-given potential. We can't guarantee that everyone will succeed,but we can guarantee that everyone will have an opportunity to succeed if theywork hard and they're responsible.That's why I entered the race for Governor of Arkansas. Our campaign plan wasto advance a set of ideas to move our state forward in education while creatingjobs and improving living standards -- all without raising taxes and whilemaking state government operate more efficiently. Our first proposal, TheArkansas Promise, would provide full tuition for higher education for those whoearn it and build on the great success of the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship program.Thanks to the help and support of Arkansans, we passed a constitutionalamendment creating the scholarship lottery that to date has provided over100,000 scholarships totaling over $300 million without raising taxes. You havedemonstrated that big improvements are possible.But since we announced our gubernatorial campaign, another strong candidate hasentered the primary election, and in order to avoid a divisive primary and tohelp unite the Democratic Party, I am ending my campaign for Governor. Icongratulate Mike Ross on a great start to his campaign, and I will be workinghard to elect him and other Democratic nominees for office in the comingelection.While this is a disappointing outcome for our campaign today, Shanti and Ichoose to focus on the many positives that you have provided us for years. Forexample, because of your overwhelming vote in 2008, thousands of students whonever considered college an option are now pursuing opportunities to achieve abetter future for themselves, their families, and our entire state. Because ofyour compassion and energy, over 1,000 volunteers came together to provide afree health clinic to Arkansans.We have been very fortunate to have the dedication of extraordinarily talentedand hardworking teams both on our campaigns and while in office. Theytirelessly and effectively pushed for policies and ideals to advance our state.We are profoundly grateful to the thousands of Arkansans from every part of thestate who have provided encouragement and endorsed our candidacy. Over 2,500people from all 75 Arkansas counties have volunteered for our campaign. We willnever forget all you have done on our behalf. I ask you to remain engaged andcontinue to devote your efforts to improving Arkansas and America.Shanti and I are proud to be raising our daughters here, and we'll continue todo all we can to build a brighter future for them and for all Arkansans.Thank you,Bill Halter