Controversial GOP state Sen. Dick Black announced Wednesday he will withdraw his candidacy in Virginia's 10th District.
“I seriously considered running for the 10th Congressional seat," Black said in a statement to a local conservative blog. "However, after meeting with Republican Caucus leaders in Richmond, it is imperative that I remain in the Senate where I am needed to maintain our 20/20 split.”
Black's exit from the contest paves the way for Republican Del. Barbara Comstock to earn the party's nomination in the competitive, open-seat district that includes the Northern Virginia suburbs near Washington, D.C. Comstock is now the only GOP candidate in the race.
Black and Comstock were running to replace longtime Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf, who announced his retirement late last year.
Republican operatives worried Black could earn the GOP nod through a nominating convention.
They feared Black's tendency to make controversial statements could alienate general-election voters in this district, which GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried by a 1-point margin in 2012.
With Black now out of the race, Comstock's path to victory becomes more clear. Comstock has already received the endorsement of many local officials, as well as Romney, whom she worked for in the 2012 campaign.
Potential candidates have until March 27 to file the necessary paperwork for a run. Republicans in the district will decide Thursday whether the party's nominee will be chosen via a nominating convention or a primary election.
Four Democrats are currently running for the seat: attorney Richard Bolger, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, architect Sam Kubba and Iraq War veteran David Wroblewski.
Democratic operatives say Foust is likely the strongest candidate in the field.
Virginia’s 10th District is rated a Lean Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.