By Andy Sher

Republican Mae Beavers said Tuesday on Facebook she is suspending her campaign for Tennessee governor after reporting earlier in the day she raised just $163,947 during the last six months for her statewide bid and had about the same amount remaining in cash.

In her post, Beavers said, "I can't express enough of the sincere thankfulness that I have for you and the out-pouring of love and support as a volunteer and supporter you had for this campaign."

She said her husband, Jerry Beavers, "and I look forward to my retirement after decades of being an elected official, and we pray that God blesses you and our great state and nation."

A tea party conservative who late last year resigned her long-held state Senate seat to focus on the governor's race, Beavers wrote that "after criss-crossing the state and meeting thousands of fellow Tennesseans, it was not a light decision to make because you have embraced our conservative message whole-heartedly; however, it is the right choice to make."

But the Mt. Juliet Republican said she knows that "entering the race has not been in vain as many of my heart-felt issues are now talking points of other candidates."

Beavers was one of five major Republicans seeking the party's nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. A number of hard-right conservatives supported her both in the state Senate and in her gubernatorial bid for her opposition to abortion, tax increases, undocumented immigrants and LGBT issues like same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms at public schools, as well as her anti-Muslim views.

She was the final sponsor of a Senate resolution, later approved by state voters in 2015, that removed all protections for abortion in the Tennessee Constitution. Beavers also fought against efforts by then-Republican Gov. Don Sundquist to pass a state income tax in the early 2000s.

Earlier this month, she ignited a controversy when she scheduled a "Homeland Security Summit" featuring three speakers known for their anti-Muslim views at Trevecca Nazarene University, Beavers' alma mater. University officials later canceled the event.

In the GOP gubernatorial primary, Beavers faced three multi-millionaires.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said in a statement later on Tuesday that "while Mae and I don't always agree on tactics, we have always agreed on philosophy, and I've always known her to be a dedicated conservative who fights for what she believes in."

Black, who served in the state Senate with Beavers prior to her 2010 election to the U.S. House, added that "from our time in the state legislature fighting to protect the unborn and to stop a state income tax, we know the conservative movement is stronger when we are fighting for the same cause together."

She wished Beavers well and added she hopes Beavers "will continue to be active in the fight in Tennessee."

Knoxville businessman and former state economic commissioner Randy Boyd weighed in as well, saying in a statement that "Sen. Beavers and I got to know each other during my time as ECD Commissioner and I applaud her efforts to serve Tennessee with passion and a conservative vision. Jenny and I wish Sen. Beavers and her family the best as they move on to the next chapter."

Besides Black and Boyd, other Republicans running in the GOP gubernatorial primary include state House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and conservative activist and Realtor Kay White of Johnson City.

Running in the Democratic primary are former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley.

(c)2018 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.)