PROVIDENCE — Michael Neary, the Rhode Island congressional candidate charged with menacing the motorists he followed for 70 miles in Ohio, announced on Friday that he is dropping out of the race.
In a phone call from Columbus, Ohio, Neary told the Globe he has been experiencing non-epileptic seizures, and his decision is based on his “medical and mental health.”
“Today I am announcing that after careful consideration and prayer, I have decided to end my campaign for Congress in the Second District,” he said in a statement. “I am grateful for my family, friends, and doctors who have assisted me over the last several weeks, and at this time my medical and mental health care must remain a priority.”
Neary said he looks forward to working to elect a Democrat to the 2nd Congressional District seat that Democratic US Representative James R. Langevin is vacating at the end of this year.
He said he has not decided which candidate he would back in the Democratic field, which includes Seth Magaziner, Omar Bah, Joy Fox, Sarah E. Morgenthau, David A, Segal, and Cameron Moquin. The Republican field includes Allan W. Fung and Robert B. Lancia.
“I will not stop advocating for Rhode Islanders who are still facing very serious challenges themselves,” Neary said. “I will also be sharing more in the coming days about my recent experiences and returning home as soon as I can. I am truly thankful for all the memorable moments I have shared with so many incredible people over the last several months, and I wish the remaining candidates in the race all the best going forward.”
Neary had previously worked for former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich and was working as a senior analyst at CVS Health. He was living in Columbus, Ohio, but described himself as a sixth-generation Rhode Islander who grew up in Coventry and West Warwick, and said he planned to move back to Coventry soon.
On March 23, an Ohio couple told authorities they were “scared for their life” because they had been followed from the Columbus Airport — for about 70 miles — by a silver car that had tailgated them, speeding up when they sped up, slowing down when they slowed down, flashing its lights, and at one point pulling alongside them into the oncoming lane of traffic, according to incident reports from the Miami County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office.
Video from body and dashboard cameras shows that when Miami County (Ohio) sheriff’s deputies stopped Neary’s car late at night in Troy, Ohio, he told them, “I’m running for Congress in Rhode Island...I just got in my car and was just riding.”
Neary, 28, was charged with menacing by stalking, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty. A pretrial conference is set for June 2, according to court records.
On April 8, Neary had said he planned to remain in the race despite the criminal charges he faced. “I’m talking with close friends and working through different things,” he said at the time. “I am seeking further mental health treatment, and I am physically ill because of what happened.”
On Friday, he told the Globe: “It’s not fair to Rhode Islanders to try to continue when I cannot fully commit to the campaign.”