Shawn Fritz, the Republican candidate for sheriff of Bibb County, said Wednesday that he is dropping out of the race.
That almost certainly means that David Davis, who won the Democratic nomination last month, will become the county’s next sheriff. But there are still hurdles to clear.
Fritz said he would file the necessary paperwork on his campaign by the end of the week. The state Republican Party has until 4:30 p.m. the day after Fritz files those documents to appoint a new candidate to run in November’s general election against Davis, Macon-Bibb County Elections Supervisor Elaine Carr said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no plan to appoint a new candidate, said Suzanne Wood, chairwoman of the Bibb County Republican Party.
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Write-in candidates have until Sept. 4 to advertise their candidacy in The Telegraph and become certified. Votes for write-in candidates who are not certified are not counted, Carr said.
Fritz said an increased workload at his job with a defense contractor and health concerns caused him to make the decision within the past few days.
“It’s just not my time,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “It wasn’t an easy decision.”
The 41-year-old Air Force retiree said he paid the $2,500 qualifying fee for the race out of his own pocket.
He hasn’t raised any contributions over $100 that require a campaign disclosure report. His supporters had committed to make donations after the July 31 primary, Fritz said.
In light of Fritz withdrawing from the race, Davis likely will go into the November election without opposition aside from possible write-in votes.
Davis, 54, chief deputy for the sheriff's department, said he got a call from Suzanne Wood, chairwoman of the Bibb County Republican Party, at about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday notifying him of Fritz’s withdrawal.
Davis said he looks forward to having extra time to prepare for taking office in 2013 and planning for consolidation.
He won’t stop campaigning. He’ll maintain his campaign headquarters through the November general election and will continue meeting with residents to hear their crime concerns.
“It’s important that I stay out in the community,” he said. “I’m thankful for the support of the people who got me this far.”
Davis said there’s been talk of whether he will join the 15-member consolidation transition team. If he’s not asked to join the team, he’ll continue to serve in a support role for Sheriff Jerry Modena who will be a member of the team. Modena is retiring at the end of 2012. The new sheriff will take Modena’s seat on the team in 2013.
“Whatever they decide, I’ll work in any way that I can,” Davis said Wednesday morning.
Fritz said he launched his campaign because he saw things that needed to be changed at the sheriff’s office.
Wednesday, he said Davis “will do a good job.”
Fritz said he still is considering a future run for sheriff and wants to stay involved in local politics.
Unopposed in the July 31 Republican primary, Fritz received 7,138 votes.
Davis won the Democratic primary, drawing 50.81 percent of the ballots in the race or 11,051 votes.
Bill Lucas, a retired Georgia Department of Corrections investigator, came in second place with 33.5 percent and 7,303 votes. Lucas endorsed Davis the day after the primary.
Albert Hall, a retired sheriff’s office captain, took 15.6 percent with 3,395 votes in the primary.