Jason Sager said he and his wife Stephanie spent this past weekend immersed in Bible scripture, seeking guidance to help him decide what they should do as a family in the wake of an acknowledged affair with his former media liaison.
That exercise, along with what he calls an outpouring of support from the community, prompted them to mutually agree that he should forge ahead with his campaign for county commissioner.
Stephanie Sager has vowed to stand by her husband who, while admitting he made a grave mistake, is now a "changed man."
Sager, 38, said he owes it to Hernando County to get on the board and move forward — with the help of his colleagues — his job-creating plan.
Sager also said much of what has been reported about his previous extramarital relationship with former staffer Danielle Alexandre is in error and he plans to hire an attorney to look into how details were released to the media and the role his Democratic challenger for county commission, Diane Rowden, played in the matter.
He chose not to give specifics.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Sager thanks the community for their continued prayers.
"He is my husband, the love of my life, and continues to be the best candidate to improve the county my family has called home for eight generations," she said in a prepared statement.
"I pray you will stand with our family," she wrote.
Sager said Alexandre, who has since divorced her husband, is no longer his media liason. That ended shortly after the affair this past spring and he has had no contact with her, he said.
"This is a personal matter between my family," Sager said. "We will get through it."
Sager said he will understand if people choose not to cast a vote for him
"The only thing I ask is for their forgiveness," Sager said. "I totally understand their being disappointed. They should be. What I did was wrong, there's no getting around it."
Now that Sager's affair is out in the open, the local GOP is also leaving his fate up to the voters.
"Now that the information is out there, it's ultimately up to the voters to decide how much weight they want to give this issue before they cast their votes," said Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee
Asked whether the party will continue to support Sager, Ingoglia replied: "We support all of our Republican candidates."
Sager believes his message for recovery for Hernando County resonates with people, although he admits his recent conduct "didn't make it any easier to bring forth that message."
Sager also fired off a letter to his supporters asking for their continued support.
"I am certainly flawed," he said. "I think that goes without saying. However, I will continue to fight for my community. We have worked too hard and have achieved too much together to simply step aside."
Sager said in the remaining days until Nov. 6, his opponent will continue the personal attacks.
"Let us not forget, she is not attacking me, she is attacking the message that we bring. We have never attacked her personally," he said. "Though it is certainly difficult for me to remain on message, Stephanie remains by my side to encourage me to do so."
Sager also is being opposed in the District 3 commission race by no-party candidate Greg Sheldon.