With more than two months left on the campaign trail for the Republican House District 47 seat, Rich Reidy announced today he was pulling out of the race, and has endorsed James Grant in the election.
In a press release issued this afternoon, Reidy was vague on why he was leaving the campaign at this time. He has served as a legislative aide to Hillsborough County Commission Chair Ken Hagan, and said today he'd prefer to stay in local government vs. representing the citizenry in Tallahassee.
I was overwhelmed by the depth of support I received, and at the same time, the genuine regret many expressed that I was leaving the County, said Reidy. Those many voices of encouragement helped me to realize that my heart and passion is in local government. It is what I know, what I love and where I can best serve. Ill just have to wait until either 2012 or 2014 to run for a county commission seat.
Reidy withdraws two days after the Tampa Tribune's Mike Salinero reported that Reidy and Hagan were involved in trying to have the county pay for $90,000 in road improvements that are owned by their church of worship, Idlewild Baptist in Lutz.
The story quoted county public works chief Bob Gordon as having rejecting the original request because it violated county policy and because road improvements were not in the county's capital improvement plan.
Salinero reported that Gordon then wrote to Mike Merrill, who is current the interim County Administrator and top dog in County government (filling in for a suspended Pat Bean):
"In the numerous meetings with Idlewild Baptist Church representatives and Rich Reidy, we have reiterated that we could not recommend acceptance of this roadway until a number of issues were resolved," Gordon said in the e-mail.
According to Gordon, Reidy said Hagan "would find the money" to pay for the upgrades.
Ultimately, Commissioners discussed the issue in May, and asked Gordon to find some money in the budget for the traffic calming devices. Gordon says now the money will come from the Intersection and Pedestrian Safety Program, a fund that the Tribune reports is "for transportation improvements that reduce intersection and pedestrian crashes."
Reidy is now backing attorney James Grant, the son of former state Senator John Grant, for the seat that includes Citrus Park, Keystone, Greater Northdale and Greater Carrollwood and has been held by now term-limited Republican Kevin Ambler.
James is bright, educated and eager to serve, said Reidy. I think hell be an able guardian of the taxpayer dollar and the tenets of less government and less spending. At the same time, hell bring new and fresh ideas to Tallahassee.
Other Republicans in the race include former County Commissioner Brian Blair, former Verizon executive Irene Guy and businessman Tom Aderhold. Michael Steinberg is the only Democrat running, which guarantees he'll be the nominee against the GOP winner in November. Grant, an attorney, has won several straw polls in the District 47 race.