DENVER -

The last major opponent to Rep. Cory Gardner is bowing out of the Republican Senate primary.

State Sen. Owen Hill on Monday told supporters he was stepping out of the race. That clears the field for Gardner to challenge Democrat Mark Udall.
    
Hill's departure was first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette. Gardner shook up the campaign last month with his last-minute entry into the primary. Two other prominent Republicans immediately dropped out and endorsed the congressman. But Hill accused Gardner of cutting a "backroom deal" and vowed to stay in.
    
Now he says Gardner is the party's best chance to defeat Udall.