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Rep. David Richardson drops out of race for 2018 House Democratic leader

David Richardson at GadsdenRep. David Richardson of Miami Beach notified members of the House Democratic Caucus late Tuesday that he was no longer running to be their designated leader in 2018-2020, saying instead he prefers the caucus to choose between Reps. Kionne McGhee of Miami and Bobby DuBose, of Fort Lauderdale,

"We must learn from the lessons of years past where a divided Caucus only weakened us,'' Richardson wrote in the email. "A united Caucus strengthens our voice so we can better serve those who look to us for leadership."

He said he will instead continue to focus on his ground-breaking work on prison reform. In the last two years, Richardson, a forensic auditor, has been on a one-man crusade to urge reform in the state's prisons. He has visited dozens of prisons, most recently focusing on the state's private prisons and has forced changes at the Gadsden Correction Facility in North Florida. 

Here's Richardson's letter: 

Friends,

More than a year ago I decided to run to be your Democratic Leader because I thought I could make a meaningful contribution and be a strong advocate for the core values we hold most dearly. I have gained a deeper appreciation for this philosophy in the last year through my work in exposing the failures in our state prison system. Perhaps, you have followed my work and the progress we have made in recent months.

Throughout my life I have looked for ways to unite people. In the last few weeks, I’ve had some conversations with Members who have expressed their desire to see our next Leader reflect the great diversity of our membership; something I believe makes us a stronger.

In keeping with my life’s work of uniting communities and celebrating the diversity of our team, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration to be your next Leader. We now have two highly qualified candidates who are both members of the Black Caucus. A win by either candidate will ensure that our Caucus will continue its celebrated tradition of having a Leader who represents all of our membership.

At this time, I do not plan to announce publicly which of the two candidates will receive my vote, because to do so may further divide our Caucus. We must learn from the lessons of years past where a divided Caucus only weakened us. A united Caucus strengthens our voice so we can better serve those who look to us for leadership.

With the start of session upon us, I will continue to work with each of you to deliver on our collective promise to be a strong and loyal Democratic Caucus. I also plan to “double down” on my efforts to reform our state prison system. We must ensure that all Floridians are treated with dignity and respect while ensuring our tax dollars are spent wisely. When the Caucus elects its next Leader, I will offer my hand in service. I look forward to the work ahead.

Yours in Service,

David

Photo: Richardson at Gadsden Correctional Facility, courtesy of David Richardson

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