AUGUSTA – Michael Heath, former executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, has decided against a run for governor just a day after filing papers to enter the race.

Heath took out nomination papers from the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday and put his name on a list of candidates that appears on the state ethics commission Web site.

Heath had signed up to run as an independent, which means he would have had to gather 4,000 signatures by June 1. On Wednesday, he released a statement posted on the WCSH-TV Web site.

“On Monday, I decided I would consider becoming a candidate for governor of Maine if I could gather the 4,000 required signatures by June 1. While I would enjoy running, and I’d be honored to serve if elected, I quickly discovered that even the task of circulating petitions is beyond my capacity at this point in my life.”

Heath spent 15 years working for the Christian Civic League and became its executive director in 1994. He twice led people’s veto efforts to overturn gay-rights laws.

He was not a visible part of last year’s fight over same-sex marriage, which ended in November with voters repealing a state law legalizing it. He announced his resignation in September from the civic league, which is now called the Maine Family Policy Council.

Heath recently announced the formation of the American Family Association of Maine. At the time, he said he was “re-entering public life to continue the fight against the gay-rights lobby.”

“I must devote myself wholly to the important work of the American Family Association of New England,” he said in Wednesday’s statement. “I am most excited about our new work here in Maine.

“The decision to put my name out as a potential candidate is wholly mine. I regret any inconvenience this may have caused anyone.”

An attempt to reach Heath’s spokesman, Bob Celeste, was unsuccessful Wednesday.

There are now 24 people running for governor. Of those, 12 are Democrats or Republicans who will compete in a June 8 primary for the right to represent their parties on the November ballot. For the other 12, June 1 is the deadline to determine who will qualify to compete in November.