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Dwight Drake drops from gov's race

Columbia attorney and former lobbyist Dwight Drake has ended his run for governor, narrowing the Democratic field to three candidates.

Drake is the second Democrat to withdraw over the past two weeks. Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod also withdrew and then endorsed another candidate, Kershaw Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

Drake said in a statement released by his campaign alluded to fundraising as a reason to end his bid for governor.

“I have ambitious ideas for getting our state back on track, and I have the knowledge and experience to put those ideas into action,” Drake said. "But a statewide campaign for office is not just about these things. It also requires resources - campaign dollars to run in a competitive primary and in a competitive general election.”

Drake, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosures, was second in the money race behind Sheheen, having raised $510,000. But a winning campaign could cost between $2 million -$3 million, according to those watching the race for governor.

It’s a fundraising pace Drake acknowledged was difficult to maintain.

"As I have put pen to paper in recent days, it's become clear to me that I am not going to be able to marshal the resources needed to run the competitive, substantive campaign that I set out to run,” he said in the statement.

Drake got into the race as one of the fiercest critics of term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford. Drake was part of the winning legal team the forced Sanford to accept more than $700 million in federal stimulus funds Sanford had gone to court to block.

Drake’s departure leaves Sheheen, state Education Superintendent Jim Rex and Charleston Sen. Robert Ford vying for the Democratic nomination.