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Lieberman drops out of Arizona Democratic primary for governor

Aaron Lieberman, who resigned from the Legislature to run in Arizona's Democratic gubernatorial primary, ended his campaign Friday, announcing that he does not see "a realistic path forward" as the first ballots will be mailed out in just more than a month.

Lieberman announced he is "suspending" his campaign with an email sent just one minute before 5 p.m. Friday. The move leaves two Democrats in the primary race, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former Nogales mayor Marco Lopez.

"I got into this race because I care deeply about the future of Arizona, and I believe I have the skills and experience needed to help make this great state even better as the next governor," he said. "While that confidence remains, it is clear to me that there’s just not a realistic path forward in this race this year, and I owe it to all the people who have so generously supported our campaign to be honest with them about what the path ahead would look like."

"Electing a Democratic governor and ensuring that Kari Lake gets nowhere near the governor’s office will be a top priority of mine over the next few months," he said.

The primary election is Aug. 2, but voting begins in early July, when mail-in ballots are sent to voters signed up to receive them. In recent elections, about 80 percent of voters have cast their ballots early.

Lieberman had last month pronounced Arizona's politics to be a "dumpster fire" in a campaign video, and in recent days joined with fellow Democratic candidate Lopez in criticizing frontrunner Hobbs for not participating in debates.

"We owe the people who will vote for us more than tweets," he said on Twitter last week. "One of us is likely going to have to debate Kari Lake and if Hobbs thinks she's up to that challenge, let's see it."

But Lieberman didn't indicate that he was throwing his support to Lopez, focusing the announcement of the end of his campaign on Republican candidate Lake.

"For every person who supported this campaign, in so many different ways, I will be forever grateful. Together, we ran a campaign focused on one core idea: we can have it all in Arizona — a booming economy, great schools, and a clean energy economy," he tweeted on Friday.

Lieberman resigned from his LD 28 state House seat last September, leaving office after being re-elected from a district representing north-central Phoenix and Paradise Valley.

Lopez was quick to praise Lieberman, and make a bid for his supporters to shift their backing.

"Running for higher office, especially as a Democrat in Arizona, is incredibly courageous," Lopez said in an email. "I thank Aaron for sharing his story and his vision for this state, and showing up for Democrats across Arizona at the various events we’ve attended together."

"I look forward to seeing what he does next, and I welcome his supporters into our movement to restore the Promise of Arizona," he wrote.

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