UPDATE: Already a long shot in the race to become Tampa's next mayor, former Police Captain Marion Lewis announced Sunday afternoon that he was withdrawing from the 2011 race.
In a press release, Lewis, who was the first official candidate in the race, says that continuing litigation from his legal challenge between himself and the city of Tampa regarding his viability to run in 2007 is what is making him drop out. But he says he will still be active during the campaign, but now as an observer.
Lewis ran and lost to Pam Iorio in her run for re-election for mayor in 2007. But after he declared his candidacy, the city forced him to quit his job with the police force, claiming state law required subordinates to resign if the opponent has the "authority to appoint, employ, promote" a candidate who plans to run for office.
Lewis sued the city, arguing that was unconstitutional, and a Hillsborough County Circuit Judge ruled in his favor. But an appellate court overturned that decision. It is now before the 2nd Court of Appeal. Curiously, Lewis, who has been involved with this case for awhile now, now claims this is the reason he can't compete, as the spotlight turns directly on the election, now to be held in less than two months.
Here's Lewis' letter announcing his withdrawal:
Effective immediately, I regretfully, withdraw my candidacy from the 2011 Mayoral Election for the City of Tampa. I filed my intention to run for Mayor of the city of Tampa in March 2009, in order to get an early start on other potential candidates. I was hopeful that the pending litigation from February 2007, involving the City of Tampa and I; would have been resolved long before now. This litigation derived from my Mayoral run in 2007 against Mayor Pam Iorio; at which time I was removed from the Tampa Police Department because I did not resign to run for Mayor.
However, this very emotional and expensive litigation is still on going before the 2nd District Court of Appeals. In order to mount a successful campaign for the office of Mayor, It will take my undivided attention and all my available resources.
Due to the aforementioned pending litigation, it takes away from my ability to give the attention and resources that it takes to run a competitive election. In my preparation for the upcoming election, it became very clear; that my family and I need closure from the pending litigation before we can move forward in the political arena. Although, the wheels of justice have turned slow in this case, I believe ultimately; that justice and due process will prevail over injustice and abuse of power.
I am a tireless campaigner and it will be a disservice to me and my many supporters to stay in this race and not be able to give my heart and soul to this campaign. As such, with great regret, I respectfully redraw my Mayoral candidacy.