[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/10/art.demint1110.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, currently looks to be safe in his re-election bid."](CNN) - The leading Democratic challenger to Sen. Jim DeMint has decided to end his short-lived campaign to unseat the conservative South Carolina Republican, citing the need to spend more time with his family.
The Democrat, Rock Hill trial attorney Chad McGowan, had struggled to gain traction and raise money since announcing his candidacy in October. McGowan pledged to return all of his campaign donations and said he "will be fighting from the sidelines" to defeat DeMint in November.
McGowan was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee when he entered the race last year.
"I've come to the conclusion that now is the wrong time for me to mount a successful campaign for the United States Senate," McGowan said in a statement Wednesday. "The demands of a young family place a premium on every minute."
Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod, currently one of several Democrats running for South Carolina's open governor's seat, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for McGowan in the Senate race.
A senior campaign adviser to the McLeod campaign told CNN Wednesday that the Senate chatter is not surprising because McLeod is "has proven to be a really good candidate."
"He’s second among Democrats with money-on-hand, and is the only guy out there really motivating folks, so it makes sense people would want him to run for Senate," the adviser said. “But Mullins is committed to being Governor and helping the state recruit jobs and improve public education.”