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Verdin out: And then there were ... still a number of CD2 candidates

Charlie Verdin announced Tuesday that he's pulling out of the crowded Democratic race to challenge U.S. Rep. Martha McSally next year, leaving at least five others still contending in the primary contest.

Verdin said that his videogame merchandise business — Fangamer, which he co-owns — has left him little time for the campaign trail.

"If you're going to do something, you should do it well. I can't give this campaign the attention it deserves right now, so instead I will focus on my business," he said. "I have a duty to my co-owners and employees to continue to give the business the attention it deserves during this phase of growth."

"When I began this campaign, there were no serious contenders for this seat," Verdin said. "Now, we have a variety of strong candidates ready to challenge Martha McSally next year; candidates I like and trust to get the job done."

Still in the race are Matt Heinz, who lost to McSally in November 2016; former state representative Bruce Wheeler; political newcomer Billy Kovacs; former assistant secretary of the Army Mary Matiella; and Ann Kirkpatrick, the former CD 1 congresswoman who lost the U.S. Senate race to John McCain last year.

The field has narrowed somewhat over the past month. While Kirkpatrick announced she was running, that was an open secret. But Air Force vet Jeff Latas (who lost to Gabrielle Giffords in the 2006 Democratic primary that sent her on to Congress) cited the demands of his career as a commercial pilot and decided not to run, although he'd indicated he would run if Kirkpatrick got in the race. Also dropping out was geologist Alison Jones.

Verdin didn't endorse any of the remaining Democrats, but said "two candidates in particular stand out to me right now," citing the "youthful vision and idealism" of Kovacs and the stating that Matiella "has experience working at the federal level, and she has the values I want to see in a congressperson."

Verdin tweeted that his account "will transition from being 90% political and 10% nerdy to 80% nerdy and 20% political."

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Charlie Verdin