MONCKS CORNER -- The chairman of the Berkeley County Republican Party resigned his position so he could endorse former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania for president.

Tim Callanan leaves office after three years. The move follows county party rules that say the chairman cannot endorse a candidate in a competitive Republican primary.

Callanan helped draft the rules. He also is a member of Berkeley County Council. His role there is not affected.

Callanan submitted his resignation to the county party executive committee. "This is not an easy decision because, for one, I love this organization and what we have accomplished," he said. "We have taken a dysfunctional party that was both financially and organizationally bankrupt and turned it into one of the most influential county parties in the state."

Santorum has the strongest vision of the candidates, he said.

"I do not accept, nor has history ever shown, that moderation is a winning strategy for the Republican Party," Callanan said. "Thus, the only way to win in November is by offering a distinct contrast to that of the current administration. I have read the plans of all candidates and there is only one that is both bold enough to change the direction of this county yet realistic enough to get congressional and public support and that plan is Rick Santorum's."

Callanan's term running the party would have been up in the spring of 2013. The executive committee will select a replacement chairman later this winter, he said.

Callanan plans to seek re- election to County Council in the local party primary in June.