Republican leaders replace candidate for Marion Co. sheriff

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Republican leaders in Marion County on Wednesday named the person who will replace a former candidate for sheriff who withdrew from the race over a sex scandal.

Ten potential replacements spoke at a packed meeting Wednesday night. But in the end, leaders chose 35-year sheriff's veteran Chris Blair.

It was standing room only, with the crowd even spilling outside, as people showed up to hear from the candidates hoping to replace former Marion County Under-Sheriff Dan Kuhn on next month's ballot.

Once considered a favorite to become the next sheriff of Marion County, Kuhn dropped his election bid last week after admitting to an 18-month long extra-marital affair.

He also resigned as under-sheriff after that woman, who was the principal of a local Christian school, filed a complaint against him, saying their encounters happened while he was on duty and at the sheriff's office.

During Wednesday's meeting to decide Kuhn's replacement, one candidate had most of the support.

Blair, who acknowledged the difficult situation Republicans are in, narrowly lost to Kuhn in the primary.

"This is an extremely difficult set of circumstances and it is going to take time to heal this community," said Blair.

He said he heard of rumors about Kuhn's affair during their primary, but chose not to act.

"I was aware of the rumors of my opponent's affair but they were only rumors and I chose to run a clean campaign," he said.

Blair was ultimately voted to replace Kuhn. He's a 35-year veteran of the sheriff's office and former "major."

There was a heavy police presence at Wednesday's meeting after a man who claimed to be a supporter of Blair was arrested for making some kind of threat involving the sheriff's race.

In the general election Blair will now face constitution party candidate Bernie Decastro, who has faced issues in the past, including a 19-year prison term, primarily for drug-related crimes.