BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra has pulled out of the race for New York State Senate in a rebuke of the Republican party.

Giambra, who was running on the Republican line for NYS Senate District 61, said he can no longer stand with GOP leaders. In a news release, the Queen City native said he intends to change his party affiliation, though he did not give any more details.

Giambra added that he took issue with GOP leaders who “double down in their support of the NRA after yet another mass shooting; who applaud the decision to take away a woman’s right to choose and who encourage the elimination of LGBTQ rights; and who still believe that Donald Trump is their president.”

The former Erie County executive was running against Republican NYS Senator Ed Rath III in the primary race. Voters will cast their ballots for the primary on August 23.

When Giambra announced his State Senate run, he told News 4 “I can’t sit on the sidelines any longer.” He was endorsed by the Erie County Republican Party.

On the other side, NYS Senator Sean Ryan and Benjamin Carlisle are battling for their spot on the Democratic ticket.

Read Giambra’s full statement below:

Friends and supporters:

After careful thought and consideration, I have decided that I can no longer remain a Republican or continue with my campaign to seek the Republican nomination for Senator in the 61st District. I cannot stand with party leaders who double down in their support of the NRA after yet another mass shooting; who applaud the decision to take away a woman’s right to choose and who encourage the elimination of LGBTQ rights; and who still believe that Donald Trump is their president.

It is not my nature nor is it my strategy to remain silent. The Republican party in its current form is not one that I recognize or agree with. As an independent thinker who has always pushed against the status quo, it would be hypocritical of me to run on a ticket in November with the Republican nominee for Governor— who has said he would hire a pro-life health commissioner and would solicit an endorsement from Donald Trump.

I can no longer represent a party whose priorities I do not authentically support, stand with party leaders whose strategies I do not respect, or align with extreme thinkers who are unwilling to accept different points of view.

I want to thank my family, friends, and the many volunteers who devoted their time and energy to pursuing a campaign for moderation and common sense.

Joel Giambra

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.