Updated at 4:06 p.m.
Missouri Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder announced on Friday afternoon that he will not run for governor, citing conversations with Republican Dave Spence, whom he is endorsing in the race.
"I believe after numerous conversations with Dave Spence that he is the Republican Party's best chance of defeating Jay Nixon, Kinder said in a statement. "Dave is a self-made man and proven manager who understands how to create jobs and improve the state's economy. He is smart, serious and has a vision he's shared with me to renew Missouri's greatness. I am proud to call him a friend and will do everything in my power to see that he's elected governor next year," continued Kinder.
Spence, a political newcomer with the ability to self-fund, confirmed just this week that he is running.
Kinder, who will run for reelection as lieutenant governor, had considered challenging Nixon throughout 2011, and even as recently as this fall, he was holding high profile fundraisers featuring Republicans like Karl Rove and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
But Kinder has also been plagued throughout 2012 by a string of negative headlines. He's gotten himself into hot water with some ill-advised tweets and accusations made by a former Penthouse model that put him on defense.