Top Democrat drops out of governor race

TOPEKA — The Democrats' leading candidate for Kansas governor dropped out of the race today because of what his spokeswoman called the "insurmountable" effort needed to win.

Tom Wiggans, a former pharmaceutical company executive, notified supporters of his decision in an e-mail. Both his campaign and the Kansas Democratic Party confirmed his withdrawal.

Wiggans had the backing of Democratic leaders and was seen as the party's presumed nominee. The expected Republican nominee is U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback; he and Wiggans had only token opposition in the August 2010 primaries.

Wiggans' announcement came less than two weeks after a federal securities fraud lawsuit in California against him, a company he once led and other executives arose as an issue in the race. He a nd the other defendants settled the case in October for nearly $12.8 million, plus interest, but weren't required to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

But Wiggans spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden said the lawsuit was not a factor in his decision. Rather, she said, it was the time and money it would take to defeat Brownback.

Wiggans was making his first run for public office. He is an Olathe resident who had returned to Kansas early this year after working several decades outside the state. Wooden said Wiggans knew Brownback would run an aggressive and well-funded campaign.

"Tom was relatively unknown to many voters and many donors, and what we saw was that resources it would take counter that, to talk about issues, is insurmountable," Wooden said.

Brownback issued a statement saying he appreciated that Wiggans was willing to consider a run for public office.

"I wish him and his family all the best," Brownback said. "I will remain focused on growing the Kansas economy and creating good jobs."