Democrat John Walsh withdrew from the U.S. Senate race in Montana on Thursday in the midst of a scandal over widespread plagiarism in his final paper at the Army War College.
"I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator," Walsh said in a statement. "You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will."
The New York Times reported last month that Walsh had plagiarized large portions of the paper that earned him a masters degree. Subsequent attempts to explain away the plagiarism were panned by election watchers in the state.
The Billings Gazette reported his withdrawal from the race on Thursday.
"I am proud that with your support, we held our opponent [Republican Steve Daines] accountable for his hurtful record to privatize Medicare, to deny women the freedom to make their own health decisions and to sell off our public lands," Walsh said in the statement. "I know how important it is to continue the fight for these Montana values, and it is time for us all to return to the real issues of this election."
Daines had held a large lead in polls, but Walsh had narrowed the gap in the days before the New York Times story broke.
Editorials in the state’s largest newspapers had called on Walsh to drop out of the race because of the plagiarism.
A Wednesday poll showed Daines’ lead once again widening to 13 points in the wake of the plagiarism scandal.