New York state Assemblyman Will Barclay has decided to pass on challenging Doug Hoffman in the GOP primary in New York's 23rd district.

Barclay's exit leaves Hoffman and investment banker Matt Doheny as the frontrunners for the nomination, with the winner set to face Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.).

Barclay has been going after Hoffman early and often and said he fully expected to be a candidate for the seat. In the end, though, he said he felt he needed to serve in the state legislature at a crucial time.

The assemblyman also offered a parting shot at Hoffman, who continues to entertain the idea of a third-party bid if he loses the GOP primary this year.

"Finally, as I have already pledged in writing: I will support whichever candidate Republican voters choose in the primary," Barclay said in a statement. "Any candidate worthy of the Republican nomination must, in my view, do the same."