Kelly Townsend, not endorsed by Donald Trump, quits House race in Arizona

In this May 3, 2016 file photo, former Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, talks in the House during budget deliberations at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

State Sen. Kelly Townsend announced Friday she is withdrawing from the race for the Republican nomination for Arizona’s new 6th Congressional District because former President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed her.

Despite encouragement and repeated assurances, “the promised formal endorsement has still not materialized,” leaving her unable to unify the conservative vote in the August primary, Townsend said in a statement.

Townsend said she knew a Trump endorsement might be jeopardized by her recent criticism of state Sen. Wendy Rogers. Rogers has already been endorsed by Trump in her reelection race. Townsend didn’t refer to Rogers by name in her statement.

“Accordingly, I have let President Trump’s team know that I am closing my Congressional campaign and will just focus on my legislative duties,” Townsend said.

Rogers was censured this week by the Senate after her embrace of white nationalism and calls for violence drew bipartisan condemnation. Townsend missed the vote but said later she likely would have backed the formal rebuke.

Redistricting put Rogers and Townsend in the same legislative district, and they avoided a head-to-head matchup when Townsend decided to seek the congressional seat.

Townsend did not say if she planned to seek reelection to the Senate but said she would “happily” focus on the state Capitol rather than the nation’s Capitol. She did not immediately return a call seeking comment on her plans.

Six other Republicans are running for their party’s nomination in the 6th Congressional District, which leans Republican and includes parts of Tucson and the state’s southeastern corner.

Much of the district drawn overlaps the current 2nd District represented by Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is retiring.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.