York County sheriff candidate Michael Scurlock has dropped out of the race, citing a failure to collect enough signatures to get on the November ballot as a petition candidate.
Scurlock made the announcement in a Facebook post Saturday.
“After much prayer, I have decided to suspend my 2016 sheriff’s campaign,” the former Carolina Panther said. “Although my team and I worked very hard, we were unable to acquire enough petition signatures.”
The decision means the winner of the June 14 Republican primary for sheriff – Kevin Tolson or John Williams – will run unopposed in the general election.
Tolson, an investigator with the 16th Circuit solicitor’s office and son-in-law of current sheriff Bruce Bryant, responded to Scurlock’s announcement.
“After hearing of Mike’s decision to suspend his efforts, I appreciate the fact that Mike ran a positive campaign focused on his platform and issues,” Tolson said in a written statement. “We have tremendous mutual respect for each other and I wish him well in the future.”
Williams, a former York County sheriff’s investigator, said he was surprised to learn Scurlock planned to pull out of the race.
“I wish him the best of luck,” Williams said. “We both want to make the changes we need to retain employees and let them advance through the ranks, so our campaigns are alike in that respect.”
I knew getting the remainder would just put a burden on our team.
Michael Scurlock, on the need to collect more signatures to get on November’s ballot
Scurlock entered the race after serving as a deputy, public information officer and crime prevention officer in the York County Sheriff’s Office, but he might be best known for his years as an NFL football player. He played defensive back with the Panthers in 1999 after four seasons with the St. Louis Rams and playing college ball in his home state, at the University of Arizona.
After his retirement in 2000, Scurlock coached high school football in Rock Hill. He became a reserve sheriff’s deputy in 2008 after walking in on a burglary at his family’s home.
Scurlock resigned from the sheriff’s office two years ago after telling Sheriff Bruce Bryant he was eventually going to run for sheriff. Instead of entering the race as a Democrat or Republican, Scurlock went about the process of collecting voters’ signatures to get on the ballot as an independent, telling The Herald he’s never understood why fighting crime has to be a partisan issue.
Ultimately, the effort fell short of securing the number of signatures he would need to get on the November ballot. Speaking to the Herald, Scurlock wouldn’t put a number on the amount of signatures he was able to collect, but said his campaign was “well off” the number needed to qualify.
“The cut off date was coming up, and I knew getting the remainder would just put a burden on our team and anyone else who wanted to get involved,” he said.
June 14 Date of the York Co. sheriff primary between Tolson and Williams
Scurlock said he doesn’t have any immediate plans for what he’ll do next, but wants to continue working in the community with “The Choice Is Yours,” an outreach program for at-risk youth that partners with youth pastors, community members and businesses, as well as Scurlock’s fellow NFL players.
The now former candidate wouldn’t make an endorsement in the GOP race between Tolson and Williams, but said he believes all three men are on “the same page” when it comes to what needs to be done to run the York County sheriff’s office.
“I think the voters need to educate themselves on who’s running, and not go with who’s endorsed somebody else or who’s friends with somebody else,” he said.
As for his own future, “I may be suspending my campaign,” Scurlock said, “however, I will not suspend my efforts to impact the lives of individuals in our community.”