(WASHINGTON) — Disgraced former Rep. George Santos has suspended a long shot comeback bid to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District, he said on Tuesday, insisting that his challenge to incumbent Republican Rep. Nick LaLota would “all but guarantee” a Democrat takes the seat in November.

“I don’t want my run to be portrayed as reprisal against Nick Lalota… Although Nick and I don’t have the same voting record and I remain critical of his abysmal record, I don’t want to split the ticket and be responsible for handing the house to Dems,” Santos, who has said he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to independent, said in a statement on X.

LaLota has been dismissive of Santos but not of Santos’ challenge itself, previously calling his former colleague an “embarrassment” and “one of the most bizarre people I have ever met” but saying he would take the race “seriously.”

Santos was removed from the House in a historic vote in early December — after an internal campaign led in part by LaLota — and he has pleaded not guilty to pending charges that include wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The former congressman’s time in office was also marred by scandal surrounding his background, parts of which he admitted to lying about or distorting, though he insisted some details amounted to more routine resume embellishments.

Santos suggested on Tuesday that this isn’t the end of his political aspirations, and his account as a digital content creator on Cameo, selling personalized videos, remains active.

“I have [met] with leaders and with constituents and I have made the decision to hang it up here and stop perusing this race, THIS YEAR!” he said in his statement.

“The future holds countless possibilities and I am ready willing and able to step up to the plate and go fight for my country at anytime,” he said. “I will continue to participate in the public policy discussion and will do my part… I will always strive to stand on the right side of history. It’s only goodbye for now, I’ll be back.”

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