SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – An American Indian newspaper publisher dropped out of the race for Senate on Tuesday, saying he trusts Sen. Tom Daschle (search) to focus on Indian issues in his re-election campaign.
Tim Giago (search) had planned to run as an independent against Daschle, the Democratic incumbent, and former Rep. John Thune (search), a Republican. But he said Tuesday that he was concerned about hurting Daschle's chances in the race.
"I am not an unknown entity," said Giago, who publishes the weekly Lakota Journal. "I could have drawn a lot of support that would have drained the support from Sen. Daschle."
Giago said he met with Daschle on Saturday, and the senator agreed to meet in August with leaders from the nine Indian tribes in South Dakota.
Steve Hildebrand, Daschle's campaign manager, said the senator believes it's important to have "a unified effort in Indian Country."
Both Daschle and Thune candidates are running unopposed for their respective parties' nomination in the June 1 primary.
Dick Wadhams, a spokesman for Thune, said Giago's decision to leave the Senate race will have little impact on Thune's campaign, adding that Daschle will continue to have troubles among Indian voters.
Giago "never would have announced his candidacy if the problem didn't exist," Wadhams said.
The race is Thune's second bid for the Senate, following a narrow defeat in 2002 at the hands of Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson (search).