Prendergast resigns and will seek Citrus County sheriff's post
Yet another of Gov. Rick Scott's state agency chiefs announced his surprise resignation Tuesday. Retired Army Col. Mike Prendergast dropped the news during a Cabinet meeting that he'll be leaving immediately to run as a Republican for sheriff of Citrus County.
Prendergast is one of few remaining high-level appointees who has been with Scott from the very beginning of his term.
A 60-year-old native of Tampa who ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Democrat Kathy Castor in 2010, he was Scott's first chief of staff in the governor's office in 2011 and later became secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs -- the post he's vacating. He is the sixth high-ranking state official reporting to Scott and/or the Cabinet to depart in recent months, following the directors of departments of economic opportunity and revenue, the state insurance commissioner and chief of staff in the governor's office. Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson resigned Monday.
Prendergast said he and his wife Naomi have owned a home in Citrus County for about two-and-a-half years. Citrus Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election, and four candidates have declared for the post, including Philip Royal, who retired from the sheriff's office last year as a captain in charge of professional standards and training.
Prendergast would be only the third sheriff of Citrus County in the past 36 years. Dawsy is retiring after 20 years in office and his predecessor, Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, held the post for 16 years before that. Prendergast, who had a 30-year career in the military and is a sworn law enforcement officer, said he's eager to start campaigning in Citrus, where he said one of every five residents is a veteran.