Updated throughout 2:36 p.m:
Republican Eric Johnson on Tuesday resigned from the state Senate, giving himself a leg up in the money race as he makes a bid for the 2010 GOP nomination for governor.
Johnson, who was chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and served in the General Assembly for 17 years, made the announcement at a Capitol news conference.
By resigning, Johnson would freed himself from a state law that bans elected state officials from raising money during the annual meeting of the General Assembly. He will be one of only two of the top Republican challengers who will be able to raise money during this critical period before the July primary.
The legislature meets for 40 days beginning in January, but the session typically lasts until at least early April. The prohibition on fund-raising during this time can be a severe limitation for candidates.
But Johnson said campaign finances were not his motivating factor in the decision.
“I became convinced I couldn’t do