Attorney General Bill Lockyer (search) dropped plans to run for governor Thursday and said he would instead run for state treasurer, citing a wish to avoid the character attacks, money chase and partisan politics required to take on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search).

"Successful campaigns for governor require a commitment of more than a year to an obsessive and all-consuming chase for money, endorsements and exposure," Lockyer, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "As we have seen with the current governor, that chase has become obscene and replete with a political divisiveness that does nothing to help Californians with the serious issues they face on a daily basis."

Lockyer, who turns 64 next week, also cited his desire to spend more time with his family, including his 22-month old son, and his wish to commit fully to the job of attorney general before term limits force him to step down next year.

The current state treasurer, Phil Angelides (search), is the only Democrat to formally announce plans to run for governor next year. Controller Steve Westly formed an exploratory committee and is widely expected to run.

Lockyer, a longtime officeholder and fixture in state Democratic politics, told reporters as recently as last month that he planned to run for the Democratic nomination to take on Schwarzenegger, a Republican. But he has been decidedly low key about his intentions in recent weeks, prompting questions about whether he was reconsidering.

At the state Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles this month, he all but ceded the limelight to Angelides and Westly. Lockyer has amassed about $11 million for his next campaign.