Republican Phil Graham, a businessman and the stepson of former California Gov. Pete Wilson, said Thursday he will not run for a northern San Diego County Assembly seat after all, avoiding a potentially bruising and expensive intraparty battle with Assemblyman Rocky Chávez.
Graham launched his campaign with the understanding that Chávez, elected to the lower house four years ago, would leave his seat and run for U.S. Senate. But last month, Chávez announced he was ending the financially-challenged statewide bid and instead would seek reelection.
Graham, who raised about $340,000 last year, a major haul for a new candidate seeking what was an open seat, said in a prepared statement that while his motivation for running has not changed, “2016 is not my time.”
“Being part of a divisive and expensive intra-party fight that takes valuable resources away from electing Republicans is not in line with who I am politically and personally, and not how I want to enter elected office,” Graham said, offering his support to Chávez.
Graham added: “My experience these last nine months has only stoked my passion for public service.”