U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will not run in Minnesota’s special U.S. Senate election in 2018, he said in a statement.

Ellison, a Democrat, earlier had signaled that he would consider the Senate race next year, but he said Wednesday that Smith “has my full support both now and when she runs in 2018.”

Ellison is a long-serving DFL congressman who also serves as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, so he could have presented a formidable challenge to Smith.

It remains to be seen if Smith’s entry in the 2018 race will clear the Democratic field to replace Sen. Al Franken, who is resigning soon. The special election next year could also draw a big name on the Republican side, with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s name in the mix.