James Williams III

SALT LAKE CITY — As Merrill Cook entered the U.S. Senate race on Thursday, another candidate exited: James Russell Williams III, who endorsed fellow candidate Tim Bridgewater as he left.

Williams, a small-business man, had raised little money and barely showed up in polls, but he was the first Republican to challenge Bennett in what has become a crowded field.

He said he decided to endorse Bridgewater because he "represents what I would like to see in my senator."

He added about Bridgewater, "He came from humble circumstances and through hard work and self-discipline, has achieved the American Dream. Tim will fight for limiting the role and power of Washington. He has integrity, and he brings a strong grass-roots network."

Bridgewater thanked Williams for his support and said, "James is a true patriot and a good friend. I'm honored to not only have his endorsement, but welcome him as part of our team to take back our country from Washington's oppressive control."