The first of the two dozen candidates to suspend his campaign in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate is throwing his support to Congressman Charles Boustany.

Republican Abhay Patel withdrew from active campaigning Thursday.

“When we got into this thing, we knew it was going to be an uphill climb,” Patel told The Advocate. He is a New Orleans business consultant. 

The open primary, in which all candidates participate regardless of party affiliation, is Nov. 8. Patel's name will remain on the ballot and he can't legally withdraw from the race. But Patel said he will no longer campaign.

He had entered the race thinking that his conservative vision and his energy would build enough momentum to at least get him a place in the CABL/LPB debate. There, he could show a statewide audience his ability to articulate how conservative principles would help businessmen and the middle class, Patel told The Advocate.

Patel had reported raising about $305,000, which separated him from many of the two dozen candidates in the race. But he said he thought he’d need a minimum of $1 million to make a credible run and couldn’t raise that much.

His blue campaign signs are up here and there. He has a website. He ran some radio advertisements and attended a handful of the forums that would invite some of the other candidates who are not in the Top 5.

Patel’s race never gained traction.

But during campaign appearances, Patel had an opportunity to visit with Boustany. He found that he and the Lafayette Republican shared many of same pastimes – they both are avid readers who enjoy talking history – and both see the world through a similar political prism.

"Though we are not in the position we hoped to be in, I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure that we elect a conservative Republican to the United States Senate," Patel said of his endorsement of Boustany.

“I found him a very bright, very articulate young man,” Boustany said in an interview, recalling their first encounter at a Jefferson Parish GOP function.

“Abhay Patel’s passion and knowledge for conservative values, small government, and the Constitution have impressed me over that last several months. His campaign has been focused on ideas and substance rather than platitudes and lip service," Boustany said.

Patel, a lawyer, said he and Boustany talked about creating a committee that could advise Boustany on who to recommend for federal judges and prosecutors in Louisiana; what kind of positions a conservative lawyer would take.

Patel grew up working in his family’s Forest, Mississippi motel. He came to Louisiana on a scholarship to LSU. He went to law school at Boston University, then moved to New Orleans with his wife to work as financial advisor for businesses.

Patel served as vice president of Business Development for the New Orleans Business Alliance, where he led the implementation of ProsperityNOLA, the city’s five-year strategic growth plan.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.