Citing weight concern, Boyd opts out of Missouri House race

Friday, October 28, 2011
Neal E. Boyd

Neal E. Boyd, the 2008 "America's Got Talent" winner and Sikeston, Mo., native, backed out of his bid for a Missouri House seat Thursday, saying he needs to focus instead on getting his weight under control.

Boyd, who announced just two months ago his intention to run for the state's 160th House District, said he has not been diagnosed with any weight-related medical problems.

"This is literally a pre-emptive thought process on behalf of my family, friends and others," said Boyd, 35. "They were saying 'Take a step back and get yourself more healthy.'"

Boyd, a Republican, would not say how much he weighs, but he said he intends to work to get to a more acceptable weight and then -- probably in a year or two -- begin to think about running for political office again.

"Now is not the time, but I'll be back," Boyd said. "Absolutely. There's no two ways about it. I want to be able to give 110 percent. Once I realized I didn't feel physically as fit as I wanted to, I didn't want to stand in the way of anybody who could give it their all right now."

Boyd made his announcement Thursday at a Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Also in attendance was Holly Rehder, who was set to be Boyd's opposition in an Aug. 7 primary.

Rehder was surprised at Boyd's announcement, but she said she was proud of his decision.

"Neal is a dear friend of mine, and I know with all my heart he really wanted to run for this seat," Rehder said. "But I'm very proud of him for taking his health seriously. We can't take tomorrow for granted."

But Rehder, a business owner and former campaign staffer for U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau, said she assumes there will be other candidates eager to throw their hats in the ring before the last date to file for the primary on March 27.

Rehder, 41, said she has been going door to door campaigning. She said her campaign has gained momentum, pointing to what she called an outstanding fundraising quarter with receipts totaling more than $18,000.

"I'm still full-steam ahead," she said.

As for Boyd, he wouldn't comment as to whether he will seek this seat or another once he gets his weight where he wants it.

"But I'll know," he said. "Once that scale hits that number it needs to hit, I'll know. My goals and dreams haven't changed and I'm not getting any younger. And I'm not getting any smaller."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

1 Industrial Drive, Sikeston, MO

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