By Andrew Pantazi
State attorney candidate Kenny Leigh is withdrawing from the November general election, he told The Florida Times-Union on Wednesday, assuring Melissa Nelson will be Jacksonville's new elected prosecutor.
Nelson beat State Attorney Angela Corey on Tuesday in the Republican primary, but because Leigh had filed as a write-in candidate, Nelson had not technically won election yet. Now that Leigh is filing his paperwork, that has changed.
Once his paperwork is certified and notice is sent to the Duval, Clay and Nassau elections supervisors, then Nelson will be the only remaining candidate for state attorney and become the elected state attorney.
"We appreciate the support Leigh is now offering," said Brian Hughes, Nelson's campaign manager. "We're excited Melissa can now look ahead and prepare sooner than it would've been otherwise. The Fourth Circuit is about to get a whole lot better."
At first when called, Leigh said he didn't know if he was legally able to withdraw from the election, but if he couldn't that he'd be voting for Nelson instead of himself in November. "I'm voting for Melissa Nelson," he said. "I think she's going to be great."
He then called back later Wednesday morning and said he was sending his withdrawal paperwork to Tallahassee.
"When and if the Leigh withdrawal is all signed, sealed and delivered," Hughes said, "I think Melissa would welcome the opportunity to find ways that ensure the smoothest possible transition so that the families of the Fourth Circuit get the best result. What taxpayers pay for is what they deserve."
The deadline to file as a write-in candidate has already passed, and Leigh was the only remaining candidate.
Corey's then-campaign manager filed Leigh's paperwork to run as a write-in candidate the same day that Nelson filed as Corey's primary opponent. Leigh filing as a write-in candidate closed the Republican primary, ensuring only Republicans could participate.
Nelson won the primary with 64 percent of the vote to Corey's 26 percent. A third candidate received another 9.5 percent.
(c)2016 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)