updated 10/30/2009 6:53:30 PM ET 2009-10-30T22:53:30

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who propelled the debate over gay marriage but struggled to find a popular message outside the Bay Area, has dropped his bid for California governor.

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A statement issued Friday by his campaign said he was unable to devote the time needed to run an effective campaign, citing "a young family and responsibilities at city hall."

He said he regretted being unable to continue but said the decision was in the best interests of his wife, young daughter and the city.

His announcement was not a surprise to those following the Democratic campaign. Newsom was unable to find the same popularity throughout California that he enjoys in his home city.

He trailed Attorney General Jerry Brown badly in fundraising, even though Brown has not officially announced his candidacy.

Newsom failed to gain traction even after holding months of town hall meetings throughout the state and ringing up an endorsement from former President Bill Clinton.

A Clinton fundraiser that had tickets selling at up $50,000 apiece failed to give Newsom the financial boost he needed to compete with a likely run by Brown.

Newsom's exit from the race leaves Brown as the only well-known Democrat seeking the party's nomination. Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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