McDaniel drops out & Halter enters 2014 governor's race

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel officially dropped out of the 2014 governor's race Friday. Meanwhile, a spokesperson says former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is set to file paperwork to enter the race.

McDaniel has faced questions about his future in the race since he admitted to an "inappropriate" relationship last month with Hot Springs attorney Andrea Davis.

Davis was the opposing counsel in five cases handled by McDaniel's office, including a school choice lawsuit the state lost. McDaniel has said no ethics rules were violated and said the litigation wasn't compromised by the relationship.

McDaniel has been married since 2009 and has publicly apologized for the relationship.

In an email to his supporters Friday, Dustin McDaniel explained his decision to leave the Arkansas Governor's race. The entire message read:

"I sought public office to serve my fellow Arkansans and to lead on issues that matter to the State that I love. I have done that, and I will be forever proud of my record in the legislature and as AG. I had hoped that I could shape the 2014 gubernatorial debate with my vision for the future. Unfortunately, I am now convinced that if I run for Governor, this campaign would be about me personally, rather than Arkansas's future.

"When it comes to our economy, our infrastructure and our schools, Arkansas is at a crossroads. I believe that we need a visionary to lead our state forward on these critical issues. Arkansas deserves a campaign that will focus on those issues, so I believe it's in the best interests of my family, our state and the Democratic Party for me to not run for Governor.

"Bobbi and I want to thank the many people who have encouraged and supported us and continue to lift our family up in prayer. My path lies in doing my job and enjoying my family, not in the chaos of this campaign. I will spend my last two years as Attorney General focused on issues that matter to Arkansas, like fighting Medicaid fraud, ending the Pulaski County Desegregation case and standing up for consumers. I pledge that our next Attorney General will inherit one of the most well-run offices in the United States, and I will leave grateful for the tremendous honor of having served."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Halter said in a written statement that the former lieutenant governor will file paperwork next week to establish a campaign committee, which is the necessary first administrative step towards a campaign for governor in 2014. A formal announcement will be made at a later date.

"Over the holidays, my family and I talked about the demands a campaign for governor would place on us," said Halter. "We decided as a family that we are up for the challenge....During my campaign for governor, I will put forward my plans and ideas to move Arkansas towards an even brighter future."

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