Candidate who punched competitor to remain in race
Calvert County GOP committee had asked Schaefer to bow out
Calvert County delegate hopeful Bob Schaefer will continue his candidacy, despite calls from the local GOP that he drop out of the race after punching fellow Republican candidate Mark Fisher two weeks ago.
The incident, which Schaefer said he regrets and for which he has apologized, has not dissuaded his passion for serving in elected office.
"The decision to stay in the race was heartfelt," he said Wednesday. "It's got a lot to do with my convictions and how I still feel about the politics in the state and my role in being able to help businesses and families get back on their feet."
The Calvert County Republican Central Committee last week encouraged Schaefer to issue a public apology and bow out of the race because his much-publicized punch could be a distraction during the rest of the campaign.
The group's chairman, Frank McCabe, learned Saturday that Schaefer, of Owings, planned to carry on his bid for the seat currently held by Del. Sue Kullen (D-Dist. 27B) of Port Republic.
"It's his decision to make," McCabe said. "He's made his decision and we accept that, and the central committee will continue to remain neutral among the three candidates."
Schaefer, Fisher and a third Republican, Mike Blasey, are seeking the party nomination.
Schaefer, a retired Washington, D.C., firefighter, admitted to punching Fisher in the stomach after a Southern Maryland Young Republicans meeting in Prince Frederick.
Schaefer, the main speaker at the June 9 event, said he initially became upset when Fisher started setting up his own presentation in the midst of his remarks. Schaefer viewed that as disrespectful and after the meeting, when Fisher allegedly snickered at his opponent, Schaefer responded with what he characterized as "a little poke in the ribs."
Fisher said this week he was unaware of Schaefer's decision to remain in the race and declined to comment.
Schaefer said he apologized through Facebook to Fisher and his family, as well as to the central committee and the Young Republicans organization. "I take full responsibility for what's taken place and any indiscretion that's taken place. I'm not trying to run from it. I can't change what's happened," he said. "The only thing I can do now is move forward and hope that the people will understand that there's an element of risk when you take on a new venture, and sometimes things don't go exactly as we hope."
Schaefer said his spirits have been lifted by the support he has received since the incident.
"It's been a lot of ups and downs," he said. "I've met so many nice people. I hope I haven't shaken any of their confidence. There are still a lot of people who back me with this run."