UPDATED: Fred Smith won't seek a return to the state Senate afterall.
The former Republican candidate for governor sent a letter Monday to top Senate lawmakers saying he changed his mind after floating a trial balloon in October.
Smith served three terms in the Senate before seeking the 2008 GOP gubernatorial nomination, which he lost to Pat McCrory.
In the letter, Smith said he reconsidered a return bid after spending time with his family during the holidays. "I have taken much time to examine my station in life and what goals I want to accomplish moving forward," he wrote. "To that end, I have concluded that my time would be better spent in helping to ensure we elect a Republican Governor in 2012 than running for the North Carolina Senate."
As a Clayton businessman, Smith wrote that he works in a tough business environment "compounded each day by out-of-touch elected officials" but suggested the battle for the governor's mansion is the real fight.
"We have a strong Republican team already serving in the North Carolina Senate, but their mission will not be accomplished by adding another conservative," he wrote. "Their mission can only be accomplished by electing Pat McCrory as our next governor."
Pat McCrory released a statement later Tuesday applauding his leadership and accomplishments. "I appreciate his friendship and support and look forward to working with him as we move forward," he said.
See the full text of the letter below.