Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers is dropping his bid for Congress.
Sawyers announced Feb. 27 that he suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the race to unseat Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, for “personal and professional reasons” in a statement.
“I want to say thank [you to] everyone who took an active role in volunteering on our progressive campaign,” Sawyers wrote. “I want to thank all of the people who supported my candidacy; including the Democratic committees and progressive activist groups who hosted candidate forums and shared meals with our team. I want to thank the people of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District for being so hospitable to my family and I during our long road trips. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family for being by my side during every step of this journey.”
Sawyers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, but on Twitter he did urge his supporters to “put your time, energy, and money into the candidate you feel is best qualified to take our seat back in November and then join forces the day after the primary.” Sawyers’ exit leaves three Democrats in the primary contest: Edwin Santana of Stafford County, John Suddarth of Mechanicsville and Vangie Williams of King George County.
Sawyers first launched his bid against Wittman last April, acknowledging it would be an “uphill battle” to unseat the six-term incumbent in the sprawling district. The 1st District runs from western Prince William down to Virginia’s eastern shore.
The chairman quickly jumped out to a lead in fundraising after he announced his campaign, largely by self-funding his bid. But Suddarth surged ahead of Sawyers in the last round of campaign finance reports covering the last two months of 2017, and the chairman recorded having $12,600 in the bank as of Jan. 1. By contrast, Wittman has a campaign war chest of about $953,000.
Sawyers, who won his first term as chairman in 2015, attracted plenty of criticism on the school board for his bid for Congress, as well. Most recently, he’s been embroiled in a controversy over Superintendent Steve Walts’ job performance, even calling on the superintendent to step down.
Democrats in the 1st District will pick a nominee in a June 12 primary.