Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado in a 2010 photo. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado in a 2010 photo. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The most high-profile Republican running for California governor is dropping out of the race.

Abel Maldonado, a former state senator and lieutenant governor from the Central Coast, had hoped to use his campaign to push the Republican Party back toward the middle and to reach out to Latino voters. “We need to go to the communities Republicans don’t go to. We need to go to East L.A. We need to go to the San Gabriel Valley. We need to go to Compton,” he told KQED in August. 

But his campaign hit a fundraising roadblock and quickly fell into debt. On Thursday morning Maldonado announced he was calling it quits.

“Now is not my time,” Maldonado said, telling reporters he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Maldonado’s decision leaves two Republican candidates in the race: Southern California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, and former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy.

Kashkari has been aiming to carve out the same electoral niche as Maldonado: He’s presenting himself as a fiscal conservative with socially moderate views who can appeal to the minority voters who have avoided supporting  Republicans in recent years.

Donnelly, on the other hand, is putting together a campaign aimed at galvanizing the Tea Party wing of the Republican electorate.

Of course, the two candidates will not be facing off in a head-to-head Republican primary. This year, California’s new top-two nonpartisan primary will go into effect statewide. So Donnelly, Kashkari, incumbent Jerry Brown and every other candidate will appear on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters in the June primary will advance to the November ballot.

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