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Aaron Darr is dropping out of Largo City Commission race

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Aaron Darr is dropping out of the Largo City Commission District 3 contest.

The 24-year-old first-time candidate entered the contest because he said he was determined to stop incumbent Curtis Holmes from being re-elected. Holmes is running for re-election in the race against Darr and Robert Avery. Now a fourth candidate, Neil McMullen, is about to enter the contest.

That’s the reason Darr says he’s dropping out. Darr says he heard rumors last week that McMullen was about to enter the contest, and said after the two met for several hours on Monday to discuss the election, Darr is now endorsing McMullen.

“He’s really in keeping with the same ideas and passions and hopes that I have for the city of Largo,” Darr said Tuesday. “I really feel comfortable in stepping aside and doing everything that I can to make sure that we elect him to the City Commission.”

When contacted, McMullen said he was poised to enter the race, and said he thought it was “noble” of Darr to step down.

“I appreciate what he’s done,” McMullen added.

Darr is an openly gay and HIV activist who contracted the virus years ago. He’s been an educational spokesman for living AIDS for years, including speaking at an HIV/AIDS conference in Amsterdam where he discussed his status.

Darr says he is emphatically not dropping out because of any fallout involving one of his other opponents in the contest, Robert Avery.

Avery was charged on Nov. 30 with felony extortion after he issued a threatening email to Darr that was traced back to Avery’s computer. Avery reportedly admitted sending the email claiming to have damning information on Darr to law enforcement, but later claimed his computer must have been hacked. The email threatened releasing the damaging information if Darr did not drop out of the race. The Pinellas/Pasco County State Attorney’s Office is still deciding on whether or not to pursue a criminal conviction against Avery.

Darr says he understands that the case isn’t as relevant as other issues prosecutors are dealing with, and says he’s not impatient that no decision has been reached.

Darr says he will enthusiastically back McMullen’s candidacy, as well as Hillary Clinton‘s presidential run. As a 16-year-old in 2008, Darr spent time in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and other parts of the country knocking on doors in supporting the former first lady’s first presidential run.

He says he’s also been in contact with the AIDS Institute in Tampa about lobbying for that organization, and may consider a run for House District 66 in 2018.

“I’m very disappointed, but I’m comfortable with (the decision),” Darr says. “It’s the right decision for the city of Largo.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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