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David Simons cites personal attacks as reason for dropping out of runoff


A real was announced on Thursday in the race for Chatham County School Board President.

Political strategist David Simons announced that he would be bowing out of the runoff.

There is no doubt that Simons faced an uphill battle. On election night he got 21 percent of the vote. Frontrunner Jolene Byrne took almost double that amount at 40 percent.

But Simons, who touted his military experience throughout the campaign, said he isn't getting out because he's afraid of the fight.

"Instead of the issues being discussed, it was about me," said Simons. "And quite frankly, I got tired of it."

It started at an April school board debate after Simons had missed two prior debates. Supporters of other candidates started to call Simons a chicken for not participating in early debates.

Then, an ethics complaint was filed against Simons, claiming he was acting as a lobbyist without filing paperwork. A contractor then sued Simons over an email he'd written to the school board on behalf of a competing contractor.

"All we got were these personal attacks, and it was easier just to move on," said Simons.

Now, Simons is focusing on rebuilding his reputation as a political consultant. When asked whether the race would hurt his career, Simons said no.

"No," he said. "Because on election night, I won every race except, well, mine."

Simons' biggest win Tuesday night was for state Sen. Buddy Carter, who is in a runoff of his own for the Republican nomination to Georgia's first congressional district.

When asked if he would have done anything differently, Simons replied, "Not run."

Even though he is pulling out of the race, it will still go to a runoff.

Third place finisher Rev. Chest Ellis was reached by phone on Thursday evening, and he said his election team has disbanded and all of his campaign signs have already been picked up. He said he'd have to think long and hard before jumping into the runoff.

If Ellis doesn't run, then that distinction would go to fourth place finisher, retired educator Sadie Brown. If for some reason Brown also decided not to run, the fifth place finisher George Seaborough would have the opportunity to oppose Byrne in the runoff.

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