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HELENA — Republican Drew Turiano of Helena said Monday he is dropping his plans to run for governor and instead will enter the secretary of state's race.

Turiano said he's changing plans "because running for secretary of state will be a little less hectic and will need less funds to be competitive against my secretary of state opponents than my governor opponents," he said.

Turiano's departure reduces the number of Republican gubernatorial from nine to eight, while boosting the number of GOP candidates for secretary of state candidates from two to three.

He was near the bottom in fundraising among the gubernatorial candidates, raising little money other than what he loaned or donated to his campaign from his own pocket.

Through Dec. 31, Turiano had raised $25,380 for governor, with $23,000 in personal loans and $623 in a personal donation. He had $2,800 left in the bank Dec. 31.

As a candidate for secretary of state, Turiano said he will advocate for several issues, including the need for Montana to be more sovereign over state resources and provide a better business climate for the state.

"I will also advance the pro-life, anti-illegal immigration and nullification causes," Turiano said, referring to the legal theory that states can nullify federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional.

Turiano, 37, is a real estate investor who owns income property. A New York native, he received a bachelor's degree in political science from Pace University and a master's degree in the same field from Fordham University. Both are New York universities.

He moved to Montana in 2006 and was communications director for the U.S. Senate candidate Michael Lange's unsuccessful race in the Republican primary. Turiano also has written a self-published science fiction book.

Already running for secretary of state are Scott Aspenlieder, an engineer from Helena, and former Secretary of State Brad Johnson of East Helena. Democratic Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who unseated Johnson in 2008, is seeking re-election.

Turiano's withdrawal from the GOP primary for governor leaves eight other candidates: former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill of Helena; state Sen. Jeff Essmann of Billings; Bob Fanning, a rancher from Pray; Neil Livingstone, a national security and terrorism expert from Helena; former state Transportation director Jim Lynch of Kalispell; former state Sen. Ken Miller of Laurel; Chouteau County Commissioner Jim O'Hara of Fort Benton; and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings.

Announced Democratic candidates for governor are Attorney General Steve Bullock of Helena and state Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman.