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SACRAMENTO — With little money and even less political support, Pierre-Richard Prosper has ended his short-lived campaign for state attorney general. In a statement e-mailed to reporters Thursday, Prosper said he hadn’t raised enough money to justify filing official candidacy papers by today’s deadline. Prosper added that he was also “concerned that in a closely contested primary against a worthy opponent, state Sen. Charles Poochigian, our party’s financial resources and energies would be diluted from meeting the challenge ahead: winning the statewide election in November.” Prosper’s departure leaves the Republican race wide open — and relatively cost-free — for Poochigian. “This was a major milestone for us,” Poochigian campaign adviser Ken Khachigian said Thursday. “We’re very grateful and very pleased, and now we can focus on where we need to focus, which is on the Democratic opponent.” A former ambassador-at-large for war crimes in the current Bush administration, Prosper was a surprise entry into the attorney general’s race last fall. Prosper graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law and worked for a time in the U.S. attorney’s Los Angeles office. But in recent years his career had largely centered around Washington, D.C. By the time Prosper launched his bid to become attorney general, the popular Poochigian had already sewn up the endorsements of almost every leading Republican politician in California, including the two prior GOP governors, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. Nudged by a cold shoulder from the Republican establishment, Prosper’s campaign never gained traction. The fledgling candidate reported a $2,000 donation from former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, but by the end of 2005 his campaign kitty totaled just $53,871. Poochigian, by comparison, reported $2.6 million in cash on hand at the end of the year. With Prosper out of the race, Poochigian can continue fundraising and stashing away money for the general election. The all-but-certain Republican nominee can also watch as the two Democratic candidates continue to attack each other in an increasingly bitter contest. The most recent sniping between Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard “Rocky” Delgadillo has centered on Wal-Mart and whether either man was involved in bringing the controversial retailer to their respective cities. Brown’s campaign enjoyed a healthy fundraising advantage, with $3.7 million in the bank through December. Delgadillo actually raised more than Brown in 2005, but he also spent more and finished the year with $2.3 million. Both candidates likely will have to maintain or speed up their fundraising pace to stay even with Poochigian. One factor in Brown’s favor, however, is his name recognition. In a November Field Poll, 73 percent of voters said they didn’t know or had no opinion of Delgadillo. Eighty-six percent said they didn’t know Poochigian. Seven in 10 had an opinion of Brown, the former two-term California governor. Thirty-nine percent said they had a positive image, while 31 percent were unfavorable. As for Prosper, it’s unclear where his future lies. A spokeswoman said Thursday that the former ambassador has “many exciting opportunities” to consider but added that his calendar is private.

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