Raleigh, N.C. — State Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, said Thursday that he will not run for U.S. Senate next year.
Brunstetter, a powerful appropriations committee chair in the state Senate, began mulling a run as Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced that he would not seek the federal post.
"I’m honored that so many friends and colleagues reached out to voice their support of my potential candidacy. I believe, like most people across North Carolina, that we must reclaim a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate in 2014," Brunstetter said in a statement. "But that task must fall to someone else, as I have decided not to enter the race."
With Brunstetter's exit, the race for the Republican nomination to take on Democrat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a first-term incumbent from Greensboro, is now lead by three men.
House Speaker Thom Tillis is the only declared GOP candidate currently serving in elected office. Cary obstetrician Dr. Greg Brannon has garnered support from the tea party movement. The Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte, the president of the Baptist State Convention, is preparing to officially announce his campaign but already has the backing of former congressman and state party chairman Robin Hayes.