Gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger announced Thursday that he is ending his run for the White House.

"We are folding up our big tent and ending our historic campaign for president," he said in an email. "Thanks to all who supported this undertaking. I am forever grateful."

Karger, 62, said this will not be the last that Lagunans see of him in politics. He plans to be involved in politics and civil rights during his retirement, drawing on his years of experience as a political consultant for the Dolphin Group.

The Laguna Beach resident remarked that he ran the longest campaign of the election cycle, beginning in December 2009 and wrapping up at this week's Utah primary.

Last month, the Coastline Pilot interviewed Karger about his goals as the first gay candidate in “Fred Karger: A man with a mission.”

Karger, who acknowledged Mitt Romney had the GOP nomination, said he continued to campaign in California and Utah "where it was an honor to be on both state Republican ballots."

Karger said he will not be endorsing Romney, due to his signature on the National Organization for Marriage's Marriage Pledge. He called NOM a "known hate group."

In a previous Coastline Pilot story, he said he helped spur an investigation in Maine of the organization, which is accused of money laundering. He said he also received notice that it is being investigated in California as well.

After a busy year of campaigning, he said he plans to spend the summer relaxing in Laguna.

He said he's anxious to "do all the things that were put on hold the last couple of years," such as riding his Vespa and spending time with friends.

joanna.clay@latimes.com

Twitter: @joannaclay