Republican Ben Voelkel is dropping out of the crowded field for lieutenant governor, saying he “had the right message and a strong start, but it wasn’t enough in such a wide-open field.”

His decision announced Wednesday leaves eight candidates in the GOP field for lieutenant governor.

Voelkel, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, raised $116,019 last year and had $70,080 in the bank to end 2021. That put him behind only state Sens. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, and Pat Testin, R-Stevens Point, for cash on hand earlier this year.

But Voelkel failed to advance past the first round of voting at this weekend’s GOP convention for the state party’s endorsement. Instead, Testin took nearly 46 percent of the vote. The no endorsement option garnered about 45 percent. And Will Martin, a former member of Scott Walker’s cabinet, tallied about 9.5 percent.

“I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received and the friends I’ve made throughout this campaign, but unfortunately now is not my time,” Voelkel said.

Voelkel earlier this spring had been encouraged by some to consider dropping out of the race and run instead for the 5th SD instead after Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.

Voelkel passed and told in a text that he won’t reconsider that decision. Since he passed on a bid, former state Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, announced his campaign for the swing seat in the Milwaukee suburbs.

Those in the GOP field are: Testin; Roth; Martin; David King, a regular candidate for state office; businessman Jonathan Wichmann; Lancaster Mayor David Varnam; Cindy Werner, who ran for the 4th CD GOP nomination in 2020; and Kyle Yudes, of Eau Claire.

See Voelkel’s statement here.

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