Less than a month after announcing a run for governor, Trump-backing Republican Doug Steinhardt has ended his campaign — increasing the chances that fellow Republican Jack Ciattarelli will be able to clinch the nomination without a costly and bruising primary.

In an emailed statement, the former head of the state Republican Party said “unforeseen professional obligations" led to his decision.

"To everyone who supported our campaign, thank you. Your message was heard loud and clear, and you do have a voice. Together we will rise above, and we will ultimately Take Back New Jersey," Steinhardt said.

Steinhardt is a partner in the law firm Steinhardt, Capepelli, Tipton and Taylor. One of the firm's partners is Democratic former Gov. Jim Florio.

In a video announcing his candidacy on Dec. 11, the Warren County native describes himself as a conservative Republican, lifelong NRA member and a strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

"I support President Trump. I always have. Some cut and run from our president in tough times hoping he wouldn't notice while others were never there in the first place. That's not the kind of guy I am," Steinhardt says in the video as pictures of them together are displayed.

In a second video released hours before the riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol, Steinhardt highlights comments that Ciattarelli had said against Trump, including the time he called Trump "embarrassing" to the country. The video also mentions Ciattarelli's call for then-Gov. Chris Christie to resign because of his endorsement of Trump's candidacy. Since becoming a candidate, Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman from Somerset County, has had more positive things to say about Trump.

Later on the same day that Steinhardt released his video, Democrats and some Republicans around the country began calling for Trump to be remove from office because of his role in stoking protesters who stormed the Capitol.

After Steinhardt dropped out, Ciattarelli released a statement to the New Jersey Globe praising Steinhardt for his “commitment to the Republican party" and said he is looking forward to "working with him to make sure Phil Murphy is One & Done in ‘21!”

Hirsh Singh and Joseph Rudy, who have unsuccessfully sought public office in the past, also have announced their candidacies for the Republican race for governor.

Phil Murphy is the only announced Democratic candidate and heads into this election year with high approval ratings.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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