The Democratic race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Scott Brown narrowed again on Friday with candidate Robert Massie announcing he's dropping out of the contest.
Massie said in a statement that he made the decision "because the momentum of the race has shifted so profoundly that I can no longer see a path for me to win the primary and defeat Scott Brown."
Massie had been one of the first candidates to announce his intention to seek the Democratic nomination, but his candidacy failed to catch fire with voters.
"I have spent my entire life working for justice - tackling homelessness, racial prejudice, environmental destruction, and corporate misbehavior," Massie said. "By withdrawing from this particular race, I am not withdrawing from this commitment."
Massie's decision comes a week after Newton Mayor Setti Warren also dropped out, citing fundraising troubles and the entrance of Harvard professor and consumer activist Elizabeth Warren into the race.
Massie, a self-described "social justice advocate," didn't mention Elizabeth Warren by name in his statement, although her decision to jump into the race has transformed the contest.
A recent UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll showed Brown getting 41 percent of the vote and Warren receiving 38 percent, within the poll's margin of error.
Elizabeth Warren also was the strong favorite of the six Democratic candidates when pollsters surveyed potential Democratic primary voters. She garnered 36 percent of the vote among potential Democratic primary voters while none of the other candidates got more than 5 percent.
In a statement Friday, she praised Massie.
"Bob Massie's campaign reflected his life's work - focused on social justice, public service and faith," she said. "I admire Bob, and I deeply respect his courage, his compassion, and his eloquence."
City Year youth program co-founder Alan Khazei, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, also praised what he said was Massie's vision and passion.
"Bob Massie brought deep passion, thoughtful ideas and a vision for a more compassionate and more just 21st Century America to this race," Khazei said.
The remaining Democratic candidates include immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco; state Rep. Tom Conroy and Newton resident Herb Robinson.
Democratic party leaders may welcome the narrowing field of candidates as they hope to oust Brown from the seat that was held by 47 years by party stalwart Sen. Edward Kennedy until his death from brain cancer in 2009.
Brown surprised many by winning a 2010 special election for the seat.
Democrats worry that a long, costly and divisive primary could dash their hopes of reclaiming the seat. Many party officials hope the party can unite behind Warren, the sooner the better.
Rep. Niki Tsongas, the only woman in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, endorsed Warren this week, the first top Democratic lawmaker to back her.
Brown's campaign has also begun to zero in on Warren, trying to portray her as a member of the liberal elite out of touch with ordinary voters.
This program aired on October 7, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.