Democrat leaves behavioral institution
Donovan Brown says having to run against Will Weatherford for a state House seat was enough to trigger a mental breakdown.
By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published October 13, 2006
ZEPHYRHILLS - Democratic state House candidate Donovan Brown went home Thursday after a nearly two-week stay at the Harbor Behavioral Health Care Institute.
"Things are looking good," the 26-year-old said.
Brown had been in the New Port Richey facility under the Baker Act, the law that allows people to be held for psychological evaluation. He said the stress of the House District 61 race had become overwhelming.
Brown is set to face Republican Will Weatherford in the Nov. 7 general election. Weatherford, also 26, replaced state Rep. Ken Littlefield as the GOP nominee after Littlefield dropped out of the race to take a seat on the state Public Service Commission. Littlefield's name remains on the ballot.
Brown said the choice of Weatherford, whom Brown regards as similar to himself, spooked him enough to spur a mental breakdown. Brown said his mental problems, which began at age 19, include obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizo affective disorder, depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
But soon after being admitted to the Harbor, Brown was eager to get out and continue with his campaign. He intends to stay in the race.
Brown is a registered Democrat but was not recruited by the party to run. He qualified through petition, collecting some 1,400 voter signatures practically on his own. He needed 1,135 to qualify.
Alison Morano, chair of the Pasco Democratic Party, said she visited Brown while he was at the Harbor to make sure he was okay. They didn't discuss the race.
"We just want him to get better," Morano said.
Both Morano and Brown have said that no one has encouraged him to drop out of the race. Under state law, the party cannot remove him as the nominee.
Chuck Kalogianis, a longtime player in Pasco Democratic politics, said the party already had given up on the seat before the race began. The seat has always been held by a Republican.
"If the party itself doesn't field anybody, they're conceding the seat," Kalogianis said. "I guess if there's a moral to the story, it's that sometimes after qualifying, unexpected things can happen."
"It is always good to field a candidate."
As for Brown's chances, Morano said winning isn't outside the realm of the possible.
"The other candidate is not the guy who was running in the first place," she said. "Anything can happen."
[Last modified October 13, 2006, 07:34:47]
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