West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he won't run for governor next year, instead seeking re-election for his current post.
The first-term Republican made the announcement Tuesday during a conference call with reporters.
The decision could help the state's newly empowered Republican Party avoid a bruising primary fight.
Morrisey's decision leaves state Senate President Bill Cole as the only well-known GOP candidate in the open governor's race.
Earlier this month, Republican Congressman David McKinley officially ruled out a gubernatorial run. Cole announced his candidacy the following day.
Still, Morrisey said he had support within the party to run for the office.
“I have a lot of respect for Bill, I think he’s going to be a formidable candidate, but no one was trying to chase me out of the race," he said.
"I will say that I had a number of good discussions with Bill Cole. I feel good about the direction that he would move in if he were elected governor and there would be an opportunity to work together and do a lot of positive things for the state.”
For Democrats, billionaire businessman Jim Justice and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler are in the race.
Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cannot run again because he is hitting a limit of two consecutive terms.