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Damon Political Report

Georgiou abandons U.S. Senate bid, clears way for Berkley on Democratic ticket

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 | 9:53 a.m.

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Byron Georgiou Drops Out of Senate Race

KSNV coverage of Byron Georgiou's choice to drop out of the Senate race. August 10, 2011.

Las Vegas businessman Byron Georgiou today dropped out of the U.S. Senate race after enduring public criticism from the leader of his party and a cold shoulder from contributors who had turned to Democratic heir apparent U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Georgiou, who vowed to run an outsiders campaign against the Washington, D.C. establishment—both Republicans and Democrats—issued a brief statement this morning.

“I continue to believe that my background and experience well qualify me to serve in the Senate,” he said. “However, at this time, I have concluded that I can more effectively contribute to resolution of the serious economic issues facing our state and nation through my work in the private sector.”

Georgiou, a Democrat, entered the U.S. Senate race early, shortly after concluding his service on a federal commission that investigated the collapse of the financial industry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had appointed him to that panel.

But shortly after his announcement, Berkley decided to enter the race as well and Reid threw his full support behind her.

After Berkley’s entry in the race, Reid publicly criticized Georgiou, saying he regretted appointing him to the commission.

Georgiou, who had lent his campaign $1 million from his personal fortune, then encountered serious fundraising challenges, raising just $140,000 last quarter.

Still, Georgiou vowed to stay in the race, appearing uncowed by Reid’s roadblocks.

As recently as this month, Georgiou spoke of the possibility of running as a non-partisan candidate, which would have freed him from a primary against Berkley.

Berkley is expected to run against U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who was appointed to replace John Ensign after his resignation amid an investigation into his extra-marital affair with a staffer.

Within minutes of Georgiou's exit from the race, Reid performed an about face, praising the man he spent weeks criticizing.

"While Byron and I have had our differences in the past, I’m heartened by his decision today," Reid said in a written statement. "His is an important voice and perspective on the causes of the Financial Crisis."

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