Topeka Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer removed himself from the Kansas governor's race Friday and all but endorsed another Republican, U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran.
"I'm saying he would be a good governor," Sherrer told reporters Friday. "He's a man I happen to believe would be good for Kansas."
Moran, who represents the 1st District, has said he's interested in the job but hasn't made a decision. On Tuesday, Moran said, "It really is kind of a 50-50 thing."
Sherrer said he spoke Thursday with Moran, whom he called "a man of integrity and a good heart," but added the congressman didn't reveal his intentions.
"My impression was he appreciated my support for his candidacy," Sherrer said.
Sherrer said his decision wasn't based on the possibility of what Moran or anyone else might do, but on what he wanted to do.
"The question is a simple one am I prepared to make the commitment to four more years of public service, or after eight years will it be time to move on?" he said. "My answer is January 2003 will be the time to move on."
Sherrer did leave the door ajar. If Moran doesn't run, Sherrer said there is a slight chance he might reconsider.
But he added, "I don't see myself as the charger on the white horse."
Sherrer said his top issues would have been education, economic development and the environment issues Moran says would be part of his own platform.
"These issues and how they are addressed will determine the future of this state," Sherrer said.
Other possible contenders to replace Gov. Bill Graves are House Speaker Kent Glasscock of Manhattan; U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, of Goddard; State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger; and state GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson.
Parkinson has said he wouldn't run if Moran entered the race, but the others say their decisions won't be based on who else lands on next August's primary ballot.
After Sherrer's announcement, Graves said he would remain neutral for the moment. The two men have been lifelong friends and Sherrer was the governor's high school debate coach.
"All these people are my friends," Graves said. "I'm not endorsing anyone since I don't know who's running."
The 60-year-old Sherrer said he hasn't decided what he will do after leaving public office. His tenure as lieutenant governor is the longest in state history. He also has served as secretary of commerce and housing since Graves took office in January 1995.
Graves is serving his second four-year term and is barred from running again. Like Graves, Sherrer considers himself a moderate.
One Republican, former Junction City Mayor Lloyd Parker, already has declared his candidacy and has been campaigning.
Among Democrats, Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius is considered the front-runner for the party's nomination.