State Sen. Ron Gould's campaign conducted a poll this week of the GOP field in the Arizona 4th district race, and a source said Sheriff Paul Babeu was sitting in third place in that survey.
Babeu announced his withdrawal from the race early Friday morning. His own campaign had conducted a poll as recently as this week, according to his political consultant, Chris DeRose.
"We had a poll that came back Tuesday that showed us within single digits of the lead," DeRose said.
A January poll from the Babeu camp had him as the frontrunner in the race. But then February came, and the Babeu campaign found itself at the center of a firestorm involving his sexuality and accusations about his ethics.
Babeu's former GOP primary opponents weighed in on his withdrawal.
"The decision to enter a race is not easy. The decision to drop out is even harder," Rep. Paul Gosar said in a statement. "I respect Paul Babeu's decision and I believe it was the right one for him personally and the people in the district."
“Paul Babeu’s decision to withdraw from the race for Congress was proper given his current circumstances," Gould said in a statement.
Time is running out for other potential candidates to enter the race. The primary filing deadline is May 30.
In an interview with Roll Call, DeRose reiterated Babeu's stated reasoning that the decision was based on concerns about who would succeed him as Pinal County sheriff. DeRose also stressed that the campaign had continued to do well in fundraising.
"I have no doubt that if [the campaign] had continued, we would have led the 4th district in fundraising for the third quarter in a row," DeRose said.
"He's really loved being sheriff," DeRose added. "I think he's excited about running for re-election."
Roll Call Politics rates this race as Safe Republican.