Lieutenant governor candidate Pat McKinney is dropping out of the race, leaving Mike Campbell to advance to the GOP primary runoff.
McKinney spokesman Taylor Hall said McKinney decided Thursday afternoon to end his campaign. Hall said McKinney was not giving interviews.
Former Attorney General Henry McMaster had a decisive lead in Tuesday's primary, taking 44 percent of the vote.
Second place between McKinney and Campbell was too close to call, with both taking roughly 24 percent. But McKinney was slightly leading.
An automatic recount was expected to occur Friday.
McKinney was the first Republican to jump into the race last fall. Hall says the retired Kiawah Island developer is ready to be a full-time husband, father and grandfather again.
McKinney released this statement to his supporters:
Eight months ago, I formally announced for the Office of Lieutenant Governor. One of the key reasons was that, as a businessman, I wanted to bring a fresh, non-career politician perspective to Columbia. I still believe that we need more of that Columbia.
While we have likely received enough votes to be in the runoff, after much thoughtful prayer and consideration, I am withdrawing from consideration relative to the ongoing recount and will not participate in a runoff. Despite the emotional drain and grief over burying both my father and my wife's father in the last eight weeks, we persevered because we felt so strongly about our message. Given all of these circumstances, I am ready to once again be a full time husband, father and grandfather.
I will, however, promise you this: I will continue to fight to reform state government for many years to come. I firmly believe that we need business leaders in state government, not more career politicians. I will spend time and resources to elect conservatives who fit that model.
I want to thank leaders like Gov. Jim Edwards, Congressman John Napier and the countless others who helped me in this campaign. I want to especially thank Congressman Mick Mulvaney for his support and the leadership he is providing for our state.
I ask each of you to dedicate yourself to keeping people like Mick Mulvaney in leadership and fighting for us. I am beyond grateful for your prayers, support and votes.
Your support has meant the world to me and my family.