Chris Larson said he dropped his bid for the U.S. Senate today because the crowded Dem primary field made it difficult to break through and he wasn’t willing to go after his friend Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Speaking with reporters after a Capitol news conference, the Milwaukee Dem said he will seek reelection to his state Senate seat in 2022.

He also said Barnes, endorsed by Larson today, lines up with him ideologically.

“I just didn’t have the heart of trying to go out there and try and make him a villain when we’re friends, and I think he’d be a great U.S. senator,” Larson said.

Larson’s decision leaves eight Dems formally in the race: Barnes; Dr. Gillian Battino; state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Alex Lasry, the Milwaukee Bucks exec who’s on leave; Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis; software developer Adam Murphy; Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson; and Milwaukee attorney Peter Peckarsky.

Millennial Action Project founder Steven Olikara has formed an exploratory committee but isn’t formally in the race.

Larson would’ve had to give up his state Senate seat had he stayed in the race for the U.S. Senate. He noted lines for new districts won’t be known for some time, but “given the work that I’ve done in my community and how I’ve continued to make sure I’m fighting for them, I want to make sure there’s still a voice in the state Senate fighting to unrig the state Senate.”

Larson, who got into the race in late May, trailed his rivals for fundraising in the second quarter with $51,480 in receipts and $20,250 in the bank. Lasry had $1 million in his warchest, while Nelson was at $406,356 and Godlewski at $243,278. Barnes got in after the filing deadline for the second quarter.

See Larson’s release endorsing Barnes here.

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