PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic congressional candidate Michael Neary says he’s still in the race to be Rhode Island’s next congressman despite an ongoing criminal case in Ohio.
Neary, who is seeking Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District seat, was arrested last month and charged with menacing by stalking and possession of marijuana in Miami County, Ohio.
Police have accused him of following a couple he didn’t know from the airport in Columbus to Troy, Ohio, which are about 60 miles apart. The couple said they were “scared for their life,” according to police.
Neary has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and on Friday he told Target 12 he’s not bowing out of the campaign at this time.
“I’m still in the race,” he said during a phone interview. “I’m not suspending my campaign, I’m not doing anything like that at the moment.”
Neary, who said he is currently in Ohio, declined to comment on the specifics of his criminal case. But he said “there’s just a lot of the story that hasn’t be told yet.”
He’s part of a crowded field of Democrats who have filed to run in the 2nd District primary since Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin unexpectedly announced his retirement in January. The others are Omar Bah, Joy Fox, Seth Magaziner, Cameron Moquin, Sarah Morgenthau and David Segal.
Republican candidates for the seat include state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former state Rep. Bob Lancia.
In an interview with 12 News last month, Neary said he’d moved back to Rhode Island from Ohio with aspirations to fill the opening congressional seat. He grew up in Coventry and West Warwick, but had since moved to Ohio where he worked for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
According to police, Neary provided an Ohio address when he was arrested last month. His arrest was first reported by Target 12.
On Friday, Neary said he was trying to improve his health and mental well-being by eating better and getting into a better sleep cycle, along with seeking medical help. The Democrat said he understood there was high interest in his case, given his political aspirations, but that he wanted to talk with an attorney before making any specific comments.
“I’m keeping in touch with close friends at the moment and trying to work through some stuff,” he added. “I’m a candidate in the race, and a lot more is going to be forthcoming in the coming days and weeks.”
According to police, Neary initially told officers he’d gone for a drive the night of his arrest to “clear his head,” and said he thought he recognized the vehicle he ended up following, which was the only one on the highway during the early-morning hours.
But his story subsequently changed, and he told officers he didn’t know the driver, but was “drawn to the Ohio registration” on the back of the car, according to police.
A police report reviewed by Target 12 showed he admitted to smoking marijuana, and deputies found a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his back seat.
Neary was arrested and held at the Miami County Jail until he was arraigned on March 23, according to court records. He was released on bail two days later, and he’s due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on April 21.
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.