By The Associated Press

Tea party Republican Jesse Kelly has dropped out of the race for Gabrielle Giffords' former seat in Congress, two days after he lost a special election to serve out her term.

Kelly made the announcement in a statement Thursday, and thanked his wife and supporters.

Kelly lost Tuesday's election to Ron Barber by six percentage points, a decisive victory. Barber is a former Giffords staffer who also was wounded in the mass shooting that critically wounded Giffords.

It was Kelly's second loss to represent the 8th Congressional District. He lost to Giffords in 2010 by about 4,000 votes.

Barber is expected to be sworn into Congress next week. He will have to win over voters again in the November general election.