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Lone Democrat drops out of HD 64 race

Democrat Heather Kenyon Stahl announced Tuesday that she is ending her campaign for House District 64, the Tampa-based seat held by Republican Rep. James Grant.

In her announcement, posted on Facebook, Stahl thanked her supporters before citing a new job and her husband’s ongoing health problems as reasons for her exit.

“Over the past month, I have obtained a new job which provides great health benefits and allows me to work from home. I have not spoken about this a great deal but my husband had a health scare last year that has left him with cognitive issues (he is on full disability). Being able to work from home allows me the ability to be there if he needs me,” she wrote.

“The unfortunate part of all of this is that my new job (understandably) needs me full time and taking off three months in the early part of the year is not part of their overall plan. For now, I need to focus on my new position and my family. This will mean I will have to back out of the race for this campaign cycle.”

She closed by pledging to remain involved in Democratic causes and to help other 2018 Democratic candidates in their races this election cycle.

With encouragement from Alex Sink and inspiration from The Women’s March in 2017, Stahl filed for HD 64 shortly after New Year’s. She said she thought Grant had “done a fair job,” but said the district could use “someone who’s hungry and motivated to do great things for our state.”

Through four months on the trail, she had raised more than $16,000 for her campaign, though she faced long odds in the reliably Republican district even if a large “blue wave” hit Tampa Bay.

At one point she special needs teacher Christopher Smutko in the Democratic Primary, though he withdrew from the race and offered his support to Stahl, whose exit now leaves unaffiliated candidate Andy Warrener as the only non-GOP candidate in the race.

Grant’s Republican Primary opponent is Terry Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant who has been had been outspoken in his criticism of Grant and his eligibility for another term in the House, going as far as to file a lawsuit aimed at disqualifying the incumbent from running for re-election.

HD 64 covers a piece of northwestern Hillsborough County and some of eastern Pinellas County.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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