Former Congressman Tom Campbell announced in Los Angeles Thursday that he's pulling out of a crowded Republican slate in California's gubernatorial race to challenge Democrat Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat.

“I initially made the decision to run for governor because I believe that my level of record of public service — especially on the state budget — and my willingness to present specific, pragmatic solutions to our most pressing problems would enable me to help charge a better course for our state,'' Campbell said in an e-mail and video sent to his supporters. “Today, I remain firmly committed on that path with an announcement that I'll be running for the U.S. Senate instead.''

The move takes him out of a Republican gubernatorial contest that would have had big-money candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner standing in his way, not to mention the virtually unchallenged Democrat Jerry Brown.

Campbell indicated that part of his campaign will center around criticism of the Obama Administration's deficit spending. ” … In my lifetime, I have never seen the growth of federal government spending more out of control.”

Campbell, who represented part of Silicon Valley in Congress, is a moderate, abortion-rights, gay-rights-friendly Republican. Still, beating an incumbent Democratic Senator in California is like trying to scale Mammoth in flip-flops — it's rarely done. Campbell, however, has come close, scoring the 2000 Republican primary for senator.

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