Independent U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry is ending his effort to be on the Kentucky ballot this fall.
In a Thursday announcement, Marksberry, an Owensboro contractor, said he will stop collecting the needed signatures to run as an independent against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
Citing health problems, Marksberry said he doesn't have the energy to continue and also lacks the funds to hire a team to get the required 5,000 signatures before the Aug. 12 filing deadline.
"At this time I have only half of the needed signatures," he said in a news release.
Marksberry first announced he was running in December 2012 as a Democrat, but his candidacy was a constant battle with the party.
Before registering as an independent in September, Marksberry filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Democratic Party alleging it had violated its own bylaws by promoting Grimes' candidacy ahead of the May primary.
In a 15-page letter to PageOneKentucky, he accused local party officials of offering financial incentives to drop out of the race. Marksberry provided a different version of that allegation to WFPL with varying details, admitting the idea of money or a job to leave the race was his initial idea.
As an independent candidate, Marksberry was a liberal critic of Grimes and her positions, especially on coal and same-sex marriage. Some political observers believed he drained some of Grimes' liberal base, which would have served as a potential spoiler in what polls show is tight race against McConnell.
In his release, Marksberry said he hopes a voice similar to his steps up and that the conservative-mindset in both parties hasn't served most Kentuckians well.
"My campaign was never about winning, it was about the lack of a progressive voice that is needed to move Kentucky forward," he said. "Recently some of the most respected columnists have pointed out this embarrassing lack of intellectual leadership. So here’s to a more prominent person to carry on the hope of a progressive voice in Kentucky."