Mike Prendergast decided to opt out of a rematch with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Fla., choosing instead to run for a county office and leaving the Democratic congresswoman with a much clearer path to another term.
Prendergast announced he was stepping down as executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) to run for Citrus County sheriff.
As he bowed out of Tallahassee on Tuesday Prendergast highlighted his Army service, in which he rose to the rank of colonel, as he left FDVA.
“My life has been dedicated to service at many levels, including to our state and country. I believe the best way I can continue to serve is by seeking the position of Sheriff of Citrus County,” said Prendergast. “I began my military career as a Military Policeman, and it would be an honor to bring my extensive law enforcement background to a county that is home to so many brave military veterans and other outstanding citizens.”
Prendergast had been Gov. Rick Scott’s first chief of staff after an unsuccessful challenge to Castor in 2010. There had been speculation that Prendergast would seek a rematch with Castor this year.
Back in summer, Prendergast opened the door to a rematch against Castor. Back in 2010, a good year for Republicans in Florida and across the nation, Castor beat Prendergast by 19 percent but he did represent the toughest challenge she had faced from the GOP during her congressional career.
Castor currently represents parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in this secure Democratic district. After the latest round of congressional redistricting, Castor loses Pinellas County but this seat continues to lean Democratic with 44.5 percent of voters in the district being members of that party in 2012 while 29.6 percent of them were in the GOP. President Barack Obama won 58.3 percent in the district in 2012 while former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., pulled 41.7 percent.
With Prendergast out of the picture, there are three Republicans looking to topple Castor: architect Eddie Adams who has run for Congress numerous times without success, banker Evelio Gonzalez and businesswoman Christine Quinn. Most experts see this as a safely Democratic district.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN