Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore ended his long-shot campaign for presidency on Saturday.

The 57-year-old Republican said in a written statement that his late start, near the end of April, and the front-loaded primary schedule “have made it impractical to continue.”

Gilmore is the first of the 10 GOP presidential candidates to drop out. He barely registered in the polls and his latest financial disclosure report showed him with about $90,000 in cash on hand. Gilmore also underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina last month, which forced him to cancel at least a week’s worth of campaign appearances.

“I have come to believe that it takes more than a positive vision for our nation’s future to successfully compete for the presidency,” Gilmore said. “I believe that it takes years of preparation to put in place both the political and financial infrastructure to contest what now amounts to a one-day national primary in February.”

Gilmore said he felt there was an opening for a conservative candidate in the Republican field for president in 2008 when he announced he was exploring a run for the White House.

Elected governor of Virginia in 1997, he served the one term allowed by state law. Before that, he was Virginia’s attorney general.

President Bush appointed him chairman of the Republican National Committee, a job Gilmore held for about a year. He left the job after Democrats won the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey.

“I’m the type of mainstream Reagan conservative that has always kept his promises,” Gilmore said when he filed papers early this year to form a presidential exploratory committee.

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