Republican mayoral candidate John Gill is dropping out of the race for personal reasons, the GOP's party chairman, T. J. Barnes, said Friday.
Barnes said that "something came up suddenly" and Gill, a 29-year-old attorney, could not continue in the contest.
The Republicans scrambled to find an alternative challenger to Democratic Mayor Art Ward over the last few days and have apparently come up with someone – an unidentified woman.
Barnes said the party will introduce its candidate early next week.
Barnes said that GOP leaders were "very disappointed" that Gill had to drop out, but given the circumstances, they understand his decision.
"I'll leave it up to John to explain," Barnes said.
Gill could not be reached Thursday or Friday. He is scheduled, however, to appear with the new mayoral choice.
Ward said that he wishes Gill well, especially if there’s a health issue involved. He said that Gill may well have a future in city politics and deserves credit for getting involved.
The mayoral race also has an independent contender, Gary Lawton.
Lawton said he never had a chance to meet Gill, but “i do wish him the best and hope everything turns out the best for him.”
After Ward’s narrow victory in 2007 over Republican Ken Johnson, it appeared likely the Democrat would face a rematch.
Johnson declared within hours after the polls closed in 2007 that he would run again. For much of the year, it appeared he would.
But in the end, Johnson opted not to run and the GOP was uncertain who would head the Republican ticket until the day before its nominating convention last month, when Gill contacted party leaders about running after seeing a blog entry that questioned whether the party would have anyone.
Gill was a political unknown and even Republican activists admitted they only met him when he expressed a desire to run. But he impressed party leaders quickly with his quick mind and his readiness to jump into the effort to save the senior wellness clinic after it was threatened with closure.
Barnes said that Gill is "a good guy" who has a bright future in the party. He said he fully expects that Gill will be involved for years to come.
Barnes said that Gill is part of the Republican effort to "reinvent ourselves" and bring new, young people into its ranks.
"Our bench isn't that deep," Barnes said, and newcomers such as Gill offer hope for the future.
Republicans are concerned that without a strong mayoral candidate, they could lose the two GOP incumbents on the City Council, Ken Cockayne and Mike Rimcoski, and perhaps blow their chance to pick up a seat in the wide open 3rd District as well.
The Republican Town Committee’s executive committee apparently has the right to pick Gill’s successor as the party’s mayoral candidate.
Republicans last held the mayor’s office from 2005 to 2007 when William Stortz was at the city’s helm. He opted not to seek reelection.
The election is November 3. Mayors serve two-year terms for $100,000 annually.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org