E.W. Jackson (Jill Nance/AP)

After months of silence, Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson said Thursday that he would not run to unseat Sen. Mark Warner, removing a high-profile conservative from the ranks of potential challengers.

“I will stay in the fight for our Commonwealth and our country,” Jackson wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “However, after much prayer and consultation with my family and staff, I have decided that I will not seek the office of United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and financial planner Shak Hill are currently in the running for the GOP nod, with Republicans set to pick their nominee at a June convention in Roanoke. But former Pentagon official Howie Lind recently dropped out of the race, and Del. Ben Cline (Rockbridge) decided not to run, leaving some conservatives hoping for another candidate.

That could have been Jackson, who trounced six other candidates at a convention to secure the 2013 GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, but then lost the general election by a wide margin to Ralph Northam (D). Though Jackson has developed a strong grass-roots following, he also has a history of controversial remarks and alienated much of the GOP establishment in the course of his campaign.

Jackson said he would not endorse a candidate for Senate before the convention, and said that the GOP “must avoid the division within our ranks that so hurt our ticket in 2013.”

Jackson had launched a political action committee, Unite Virginia PAC, and he wrote Thursday that he was also “re-launching my national non-profit conservative public policy organization STAND, Staying True to America’s National Destiny. STAND will continue to reach out to working class and minority communities.”