Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado returned to his political roots Thursday, holding a press conference in Santa Maria to announce he was abandoning his campaign for governor of California.

“I know I have the qualifications to be governor, and I strongly believe I can turn California around if elected governor,” Maldonado said. “I have the experience and temperament…

“But after having traveled all over the state and giving it my all, I have concluded that now is not my time.”

Maldonado said he would not be a candidate for any public office in 2014.

Maldonado’s withdrawal from the race leaves only Assemblyman Tim Donnelly as a major GOP challenger to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown has not declared his intention to run for an unprecedented fourth term as governor, but he has been filling his campaign war chest, and the ongoing assumption has been that he will.

Maldonado chose Santa Maria, his hometown, to make the announcement. It’s the city where he cut his political teeth, first as a city councilman, then as the town’s youngest-ever mayor.

He went on to serve in the state Assembly and Senate before being appointed lieutenant governor by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.

He failed in his attempt to be elected to the post in 2010, losing to Democrat Gavin Newsom.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at