David Wamsley drops bid for Tallahassee City Commission seat

David Wamsley, a former developer and political first-timer, filed to run in April for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 1. He lobbed criticism at his opponent City Commissioner Jack Porter, after taking the microphone during two City Commission meetings.
David Wamsley, a former developer and political first-timer, filed to run in April for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 1. He lobbed criticism at his opponent City Commissioner Jack Porter, after taking the microphone during two City Commission meetings.

After sinking considerable resources into his first-ever campaign, David Wamsley is pulling the plug on his bid for Tallahassee City Commission.

Wamsley, a self-described businessman and former developer who spent much of the last decade outside Tallahassee, filed in April to run for Seat 1 and embarked on a well-funded if not combative campaign to oust City Commissioner Jack Porter. On Friday, he confirmed with the Tallahassee Democrat that he intends to bow out.

"I’m planning to withdraw from the race because one of my parents has a serious health issue that requires me to spend a good amount of time in Virginia," he said in a text message. "This is not an easy decision, but one I feel is necessary."

Over the course of two City Commission meetings in April, he hurled insults and criticism at Porter and City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, her lone ally on the board, during public speaker time.

“You’re going to resign,” he said without explanation April 24 after criticizing the commissioners.

David Wamsley, founder and CEO of Rosebud Communications and developer of Evening Rose, filed April 10, 2024, to run for City Commission Seat 1.
David Wamsley, founder and CEO of Rosebud Communications and developer of Evening Rose, filed April 10, 2024, to run for City Commission Seat 1.

Last month, his campaign began running billboard ads across town, each with a unique put-down aimed at Porter. “Jacqueline doesn’t know ‘Jack,’ ” one of them said alongside a giant-sized head shot of Wamsley.

Ran Xu, partner and vice president of strategy for Rosebud Communications, one of Wamsley’s firms, told the Democrat in a May 17 email that six billboards had gone up and another batch was on the way. Xu also said Wamsley was working with a high-profile political consulting house with offices worldwide.

In an interview with the Democrat shortly after filing for office, Wamsley vowed to raise “a lot of money” quickly. It's unclear how much he raised or spent; the latest campaign finance reports are due on Monday.

David Wamsley's campaign paid for this billboard and others that went up in Tallahassee attacking City Commissioner Jack Porter. He filed to run against Porter in April but confirmed Friday, June 7, 2024, that he plans to bow out of the race.
David Wamsley's campaign paid for this billboard and others that went up in Tallahassee attacking City Commissioner Jack Porter. He filed to run against Porter in April but confirmed Friday, June 7, 2024, that he plans to bow out of the race.

The 59-year-old Wamsley ran K2 Urbancorp, which built the first iteration of the Evening Rose development nearly two decades ago, and founded two other companies, Rosebud and Byline Buddy. He lived in Tallahassee from 2002 to 2010, earning degrees at Florida State University before moving to California. He returned to town in early 2021, he said previously.

Wamsley’s candidacy turned the Seat 1 race into a five-person contest, making it more difficult for any one candidate to get enough votes — 50% plus one — to win the Aug. 20 primary outright. If no one wins more than half the vote, the top two vote-getters will go on to compete in the Nov. 5 general election.

Also running are Rudy Ferguson, a pastor and neighborhood activist who ran for County Commission in 2022; Louis Dilbert, a Florida A&M University official; and Anthony DeMarco, an IT worker who hasn’t raised any money and is living outside Tallahassee.

The field of candidates will become final after the qualifying period, which runs from noon Monday to noon Friday, June 14. Candidates who haven't already submitted signatures must pay fees to appear on 2024 ballots.

Contact Jeff Burlew at jburlew@tallahassee.com or 850-599-2180.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: David Wamsley drops bid for Tallahassee City Commission seat