Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, once part of the Republican leadership and rising fast in Congress, announced Tuesday evening that he will not run for mayor of West Palm Beach.
In so doing, Foley pulled the plug on a political comeback four years after resigning from Congress in a cloud of scandal after it was revealed that he sent sexually explicit messages to a young man serving as a congressional page.
Appearing on his Foley on Politics radio show onWSVU 960AM, which reaches the length of the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast, Foley revealed that he decided not to join the race to replace retiring Mayor Lois Frankel.
I have come to the conclusion that now is not the right time, said Foley, who pledged to use his God-given talents in the nonprofit sphere as well as in his business activities.
For the last four months, Foley said, he has considered entering the race but, after discussion with close associates -- particularly his partner and his family -- he decided not to enter the race.
I honestly am humbled and thankful for all those who offered words of encouragement and advice, said Foley, who claims he was approached by many members of the community who wanted him to run. He vowed to take every opportunity to help the next mayor and serve the best interests "of the city I love, my home."
First elected to Congress in 1994, Foley rose to serve in the leadership and become a deputy whip before resigning in 2006. The seat is currently occupied by another Republican, Tom Rooney.
While there was an investigation into the page incident, there were no criminal charges filed against Foley because the young man in question was of legal age when approached. After resigning his congressional seat, Foley went into rehab and revealed that he is a homosexual and was the victim of rape by a Catholic priest when he was a boy. Since he left the House, he has been working in real estate.
Foley vacates a crowded field of candidates in the running, including City Commissioners Molly Douglas and Jeri Muoio, businesswoman Paula Ryan and Isabel Terrell. The election will be March 8, 2011.
The former congressman said that whoever replaces Frankel will face a Herculean task.
It will not be easy over the next four years, said Foley, who noted that the city, like much of Florida, remains adversely impacted by the struggling economy.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.