April Griffin out of Hillsborough County Commission race

"Within the past couple of weeks, I’ve really looked at the energy that is necessary to do a good job as the chairwoman," Griffin said, adding that after talking to advisers and family members, she thought dropping out was the right thing to do.

Griffin was running against Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern in the Democratic primary race in District 7, the countywide seat that Mark Sharpe is leaving due to term limits next year.

Mulhern had raised more money than Griffin though the first two quarters of this year, $32,350 vs. $18,760. However, both totals are far behind the major Republican in the race, District 4 County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who has raised $88,465.

When contacted today, Mulhern said she was happy for herself that Griffin was dropping out. "I think it was a smart thing for her to do."

Griffin denies that fundraising had anything to do with her decision to drop out, saying she had an "awesome fall" of fundraising events planned in the coming months. She says she will now begin returning "prorated" financial contributions back to her contributors.

She also says she's not ready to endorse Mulhern yet, saying that she wants to wait and see "how things play out."

In fact Mulhern may not have the coast completely cleared for her run in the Democratic primary. Her former city council colleague, Thomas Scott, told CL that he is still considering getting into the contest.

Scott says he thought both Democrats were under performing in their fundraising, saying that a candidate needs to raise between $100,000-$150,000 to be viable running countywide. "I've not ruled out the race. I'm still very much interested," he said. A somewhat ironic statement, considering Scott did poorly as a fundraiser in the 2011 Tampa Mayoral election.

Observers had noted that while two strong Democrats in Mulhern and Griffin were battling it out in District 7, the party has a paucity of viable selections available to run against Hillsborough Republicans like Victor Crist and Ken Hagan, both running for re-election in 2014.

Griffin says she just wants to concentrate on her current job.

"I take this job very seriously," she said. "I love what I do, I made a commitment to the voters, and I need to give the voters what I promised them when they relected me in 2010. I’m excited to really, really focus on my job, I love my job."

  • April Griffin

The Mary Mulhern-April Griffin race for the Democratic nomination for County Commission in Hillsborough's District 7 race was expected to be a barnburner throughout 2014, but now it won't happen.

That's because Griffin has announced that she is dropping out of the race to place her full attention on her duties as chair of the Hillsborough County School District.

"There have been a lot of things that have come up on the school board since I became chair that require my full attention," Griffin said early Friday afternoon. "It's been a really difficult decision, but a very thoughtful one."

First and foremost among those "things" include the continuing issue of dealing with the fallout of two special needs students in the district who died last year — Isabella Herrera, and Jenny Caballero.

Add to that the fact that the board is also looking to hiring a new attorney, and Griffin said she's maxed out with her current job.

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