Rockefeller Cites Illness, Withdraws from Governor's Race

JULY 19, 2005 - Posted at 4:16 p.m. CDT, updated at 4:41 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller has a blood disorder and is ending his race for governor.

Rockefeller has been campaigning and raising money in the hope of following in his father's footsteps as governor of Arkansas, but his illness will derail that plan.

The 56-year-old Rockefeller says he was diagnosed in April and that the blood condition could develop into leukemia.

Rockefeller made his gubernatorial ambitions known in February.  He is closing out a second four-year term as lieutenant governor, an office he won in 1996 in a special election after Mike Huckabee ascended to the governorship.

In a news conference this afternoon, he said he is immediately leaving the race for governor, saying, "effective immediately, I am retiring from this campaign."

Rockefeller, a billionaire, has emphasized economic development in his time in office and has traveled to foreign countries in efforts to rally business to Arkansas.  He also put a premium on literacy and education, saying young people are a resource Arkansas has to develop.

Rockefeller was to have faced former Arkansas Congressman Asa Hutchinson in the Republican primary, setting up an expensive battle between two high-profile candidates.  Attorney General Mike Beebe remains alone on the Democratic ballot.

Rockefeller has staked out a position in the political center.  He's a life member of the National Rifle Association and has also been a board member of  the Nature Conservency.

Rockefeller is the grandson of former Standard Oil chief John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The lieutenant governor's father, Winthrop Rockefeller, served as Arkansas Governor from 1967 to 1971.  The elder Rockefeller's time in office is regarded as a watershed for the state, bringing modern government and civil rights.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)