Bret Wedding withdrawing from GOP primary in state House District 63
Air Force reservist Bret Wedding said on his Facebook page Wednesday he is withdrawing from the Republican primary in State House District 63.
"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you my decision to withdraw my candidacy and end my campaign for the Florida Legislature," Wedding wrote, thanking supporters who had "worked tirelessly and given generously to my campaign."
"This is not a decision I have made lightly," he added. "It all comes down to this — you only have one life. And in that one life, we have the opportunity to do great things big and small. However, in the pursuit of doing great things — you can’t lose (sight) of the things that are the foundation of building that great life.
"For me," he continued, "that is my commitment to my family and the men and women I am privileged to serve and lead in our (armed) forces. I thought, for a time, that I could juggle all of those things and strike the right balance. It turns out that is not the case and therefore it would be irresponsible of me to continue this endeavor at this time."
Wedding, 38, filed papers to run in November, a day after returning from a six-month deployment, his fifth, as a logistics officer in Afghanistan. A major, Wedding is commander of the 927th Logistics Readiness Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base.
Wedding's Facebook post came less than 24 hours after he told a Tampa Bay Times reporter that he was enjoying meeting voters and that campaign fundraising was going well. Through Jan. 31, he had raised about $14,375, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state. He did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
Wedding's departure leaves Shawn Harrison as the sole Republican in the GOP primary. So far, incumbent Rep. Mark Danish is the only Democrat to file for his party's primary.
Harrison said he had never met Wedding or spoken to him. "It's not a concern why he got in, why we got out," he said.
"Obviously, it's good news," Harrison said of Wedding's withdrawal, "but there's still time for another Republican to qualify. I don't believe that will happen."
Harrison said he's turned in more than 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot by petition.
Through Jan. 31, Harrison had raised $62,285 to Danish's $48,347. That puts fundraising on a more closely matched pace than in 2012, when Harrison was the incumbent and out-raised Danish $299,000 to $19,500. Danish, a middle school science teacher, won the seat by 1 percent amid the big Democratic turnout to re-elect President Barack Obama.
"This will be a spirited debate between me and Mr. Danish," Harrison said.