By Jean Cole
One of the five men running for Limestone County sheriff has dropped out of the race because he wants to pursue other law-enforcement opportunities and because he's dissatisfied with the direction of the Limestone Republican Party.
Randall McCrary, a Lauderdale County deputy and Limestone County automotive technology teacher, told The News Courier he will withdraw as one of four Republican candidates challenging incumbent Democrat Mike Blakely, who has been sheriff 32 years.
"Over the past six months, my plans have dramatically changed in the direction I am planning on taking my law-enforcement career in the near future," McCrary wrote in an email. "I have prayed long and hard and I feel that the Lord has led me to go in a different direction with my career in law enforcement. Also, I was nearing the point to where I was going to have to formally join the Republican party of Limestone County and, at this time, their party views are not headed in the same direction as what I believe and stand for."
McCrary also wrote, "I greatly thank and appreciate all the citizens and my family in Limestone County who have, thus far, supported me. I wish all the best to the current candidates who will be pursuing their race. I have a passion for serving and protecting the people and I will pursue this passion in another area."
McCrary's exit leaves four Blakely challengers, though more people could enter the race before the Feb. 7 qualification deadline for major party candidates. Blakely's opponents include Brad Pullum, a real estate appraiser and former lawman; Eric Redd, a former soldier and instrument and controls design engineer; John Romine Sr., a former supervisor at Limestone prison; and Eric Smith, an Alabama state trooper.
The June 3 primary election will allow each party to select its front-runner. The Nov. 4 general election will decide which of those front-runners becomes sheriff.