RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott is staying out of next year's U.S. Senate race.
The 10-term representative endorsed Democratic former Gov. Tim Kaine at Scott's annual Democratic Labor Day Picnic in Newport News Monday, introducing him as Virginia's next U.S. senator.
Scott had hinted at a possible run for the seat Sen. Jim Webb will vacate with his retirement after only one term, saying he'd make up his mind this summer. He waited until the traditional end-of-summer holiday to announce his decision.
"Today, I am announcing I will not run for the U.S. Senate," Scott said.
"Though I believe I can win the Democratic nomination and the general election, a winning campaign would require me to devote all of my time for the next 14 months to that campaign. This would mean that my work on issues critical to Virginians and other Americans would have to be postponed," he said.
Scott said his decision was delayed by the General Assembly's still-unfinished effort to redistrict the state's 11 U.S. House districts, a process begun in April.
Kaine, who raised millions of dollars the past two years as President Barack Obama's handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee, holds prohibitive fundraising and name recognition advantages over untested opposition for the Democratic nomination.
The race is a marquee contest in a battleground state that Obama carried in 2008 - the first Democrat to accomplish that since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. He needs it again next year to deny the GOP a solid sweep of the South. Obama will make Richmond his first stop Friday on his campaign-style jobs program tour after his nationally televised address to Congress. His fortunes and Kaine's in Virginia are intertwined.
Kaine raised $2.3 million through June and still has $1.8 million of that in the bank. Julien Modica had raised less than $117,000 and had only about $5,400 on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Among Republicans, former Gov. George Allen has a commanding polling and fundraising edge on the GOP field, including Virginia tea party leader Jamie Radtke.
The Senate election is still 15 months away, and Scott's announcement overshadowed the traditional Labor Day start of the final sprint toward an election barely two months off: balloting for all 100 state House of Delegates seats and all 40 state Senate seats.
The most intense races are for the Senate, where Republicans hope a net gain of two seats will give them effective control of the Senate and consolidate the GOP's hold on the executive and legislative branches of state government.