Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who was the first Republican candidate to enter the race for governor, has ended his campaign.
Kolb, R-Canandaigua, released a statement Friday announcing his decision. He cited personal reasons for his exit.
"As I left my home before dawn this morning, saying goodbye to my incredible wife, I knew that I'd be spending the next week, the week after, and every week for at least the next nine months on the road, away from my loving family," he said. "That moment helped put what is truly important in life back into perspective."
Kolb declared his candidacy in December and secured endorsements from four county Republican committees across the state, including three in the Finger Lakes region. He was also endorsed by nine county GOP chairs.
Other Republican leaders showed their support for Kolb's bid. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who was the GOP nominee for New York City mayor in 2017, was one of the first to endorse Kolb for governor.
Last week, Kolb's campaign announced he was endorsed by the Ontario County Republican Committee, his home county's GOP panel.
"The last few months have been an incredible journey, and I am very grateful to so many friends, volunteers, activists, business and community leaders, and donors for their support," Kolb said.
The surprising decision comes as Republicans determine who will challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the general election. Kolb was one of three candidates in the field. State Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican, and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra were the others.
Joseph Holland, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, is considering a gubernatorial bid.
Kolb, who has served in the state Assembly since 2000, will remain as leader of the chamber's Republican conference. He has held the minority leader post since 2009.
"I will continue to serve the people of New York as Assembly leader and look forward to continuing to fight for lower taxes, good jobs for New York families and an end to corruption in the Cuomo administration," Kolb said.