Republican Jack Ryan (search) officially withdrew from the U.S. Senate race Thursday, nearly five weeks after a sex club scandal forced him to abandon his candidacy.

The Illinois State Board of Elections (search) received Ryan's withdrawal papers Thursday morning in Springfield, according to Darlene Gervase, assistant to the board's director.

His exit comes a day after Republican leaders said they were tired of waiting for Ryan to get off the ballot and scheduled a meeting of the committee that will choose his replacement.

"We really can't wait anymore. He's dragged this on too long," said state party chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka.

The millionaire investment banker-turned-teacher said he would exit the race last month after embarrassing allegations by his ex-wife, "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Boston Public" actress Jeri Ryan (search), became public. In custody papers, she accused him of dragging her to sex clubs and asking her to have sex with him in front of others.

The uncertainty about who will be atop the ticket is a lingering embarrassment to a GOP still trying to recover from the indictment of former Gov. George Ryan (search) in a widespread corruption scandal and a disastrous 2002 election in which it lost almost every statewide office.

At the same time, a rosy glow surrounds the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Barack Obama (search). The state senator from Chicago delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention (search) on Tuesday night to rave reviews.

Many party stalwarts and well-known GOP figures have turned down the chance to run for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. They include former Govs. Jim Edgar and James Thompson; former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka; former State Board of Education chairman and businessman Ron Gidwitz; state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, R-Elgin; and state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

Last week, Fitzgerald said, "It's a sad comment on the Illinois Republican Party that arguably no one who is sane is willing to even accept the nomination."