Mike Harrison. Photo via harrisonforassembly.com
Mike Harrison. Photo via harrisonforassembly.com

Paving the way for Santee Mayor Randy Voepel to join the state Assembly, GOP rival Mike Harrison on Monday announced his withdrawal from the 71st District race.

“After a significant amount of prayer and discussions with my family, we have come to a decision that my best place is right where I am, with my family and working in the office of Congressman [Duncan D.] Hunter,” Harrison said.

Harrison, who also worked for Hunter’s father, said on Facebook and sdrostra.com: “It was important to me to run a strong, positive campaign that focused on conservative principles and values and in a manner that not only reflected the true character of East County, but also one in which they could be proud.”

He apologized for disappointing his supporters and said: “This decision is not a reflection of anything other than the fact that God has other plans for me that do not include Sacramento.”

Harrison announced his 2016 campaign in March 2014.

Santee Mayor Voepel, science-fiction writer Tony Teora (who lost to Jones in 2014) and Democrat Jerald Larkey hope to succeed Jones, a former Santee councilman who was termed out and may seek Joel Anderson’s state Senate seat in 2018.

THANKS FOR EVERYTHING!Someone recently told me that sometimes the right decision can be the hardest. Two years ago I…

Posted by Mike Harrison for Assembly on Monday, March 7, 2016

“Someone recently told me that sometimes the right decision can be the hardest,” Harrison said. “The biggest lesson I have learned, however, is that this is not the right time for me to serve in the Assembly.”

The district is heavily Republican in voter registration with the GOP making up 43 percent of voters compared with 28 percent Democrats and 23 percent independent, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.

Voepel aims to win at least 50 percent of the vote in the June 7 primary to claim the seat outright.

The 71st Assembly District takes in eastern San Diego County, including Alpine, Borrego Springs, Casa de Oro – Mount Helix, El Cajon, Lakeside, Jamul, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Santee and Spring Valley; and southern Riverside County, including Anza, Aguanga, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, Lake Riverside and Mountain Center.

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