Democrat David Welch has dropped out of the race for Florida House District 35.
Welch is a 49-year old residential counselor at a psychiatric center and director of the Hernando chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In October, he became the first Democrat to enter the race for House District 35, which includes Hernando County west of the Suncoast Parkway and north of State Road 50.
Term-limited Republican Rep. Rob Schenck, a Spring Hill Republican, currently holds the seat.
Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Brooksville resident made the announcement early Tuesday, citing an unnamed “family situation.”
“I am deeply disappointed, but family must come first,” Welch said on his Facebook page. “However, I plan on coming back into politics in the 2016 election. My heart is broken that I cannot serve right now in a political office, but I will be back — just want to take care of family first.”
Welch’s exit clears the way to the Democratic primary for former Hernando County commissioner Rose Rocco, who filed earlier this month.
As of Tuesday, chair of the Hernando GOP Executive Committee and vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida Blaise Ingoglia is only Republican in the race.