Bill DeFries, right, a Clayton businessman, thanks former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft for providing political mentorship over the past year. DeFries announced in January he was running for an open Montgomery County Commission seat. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Restaurant owner drops out of county commission race

Bill DeFries — the businessman who gained attention when he decided not to show NFL games at his Beavercreek restaurant, Beef O’Brady’s — has dropped out of the race for Montgomery County commissioner.

In his announcement, DeFries said he was “expected to chase donor dollars and primary voters” and “realized my political journey is a detour away from authentic conversations and real grassroots transformation.”

DeFries’ announcement is unexpected, given the buzz around his campaign. Republican state representatives Niraj Antani, Jim Butler, Mike Henne and Jeff Rezabek as well as state Sen. Peggy Lehner and former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft were at his campaign launch in January.

“Over the last fourteen years that I have lived in the Miami Valley, whenever I’ve spoken in a public forum or met with influencers privately, I talk about how we can improve our city, together. Whether the person is a Republican or Democrat, we’ve focused on our similarities, not our differences. We may have different beliefs, but we all care about the same damn things,” DeFries wrote.

“Eight weeks into my campaign, I’ve realized those days are over. That breaks my heart. I find myself a genuine man in a political world, where I’m expected to chase donor dollars and primary voters instead of breaking bread with those who genuinely want to affect change,” he wrote.

Dan Foley decided to run for the Statehouse and left the Montgomery County Commission seat wide open. DeFries’ departure leaves three Republicans in the race: Doug Barry, a current Miami Twp. trustee and owner of BarryStaff, a Dayton staffing company; Gary Leitzell, a former mayor of Dayton, and Bob Matthews, a former Miami Twp. trustee.

Two Democrats are in the race: Carolyn Rice of Kettering, who has been Montgomery County treasurer for 11 years, and Dr. Don Shaffer, a former Clayton council member and chiropractor with a West Milton practice. Daryl Ward, of Dayton, the senior pastor at Omega Baptist Church in Dayton, dropped out of the county race to run for Dayton City Commission.