Seminole City Council member Chris Burke announced Tuesday afternoon that he will withdraw from the Florida House District 59 race, stating he believes he can best help his community by continuing to serve on the Council.
Burke announced his run just last Thursday, joining four other Republicans in the race to succeed Rep. Nick DiCeglie in the redrawn district.
“I am overwhelmed by the support I have received in the short time since announcing my candidacy for the Florida House,” Burke said in a statement. “As a veteran, Largo Police Department Commander, and a Seminole City Council member, I have always looked to serve my community’s needs and will continue to do so in the future. At this time in my life, I believe the best way to continue serving my community is to stay on the Seminole City Council.”
Burke is a decorated U.S. Army veteran and law enforcement officer, serving with the Largo Police Department since 1989. Burke served in the Gulf War, where he was nominated for the Bronze Star medal. He served as a school resource officer in Largo for six years and in 2006 was named the School Resource Officer of the Year for the state of Florida.
Burke also served on the Department Tactical Team and was a hostage negotiator. He will maintain his spot on the Seminole City Council, having previously served as Vice Mayor.
House District 59 is located in Pinellas County and includes Largo, Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park and some of unincorporated Pinellas County.
The GOP Primary currently includes front-runners Berny Jacques and Jennifer Wilson, a business lawyer. Dipak Dinanath Nadkarni and Megan Angel Petty and are also running for the Republican nomination, making for a crowded Primary race.
Burke is also not the first Republican to drop out of the race. Former candidate Alen Tomczak announced in early March that he ended his campaign the House District after being called to active duty with the Florida National Guard.
As an active member of the Florida National Guard, Tomczak will be deployed overseas beginning in May, his campaign said. DiCeglie had endorsed Tomczak as his successor.