Brian Stevens, who'd put his hat in the ring as a Democratic candidate against Stacey Campfield, announced Friday that he would withdraw from the race. Anyone who donated to his campaign may request a refund.
Stevens also announced his support for Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who will face Campfield in the Republican primary in 2014.
Stevens still maintains his political beliefs fall on the left side of the spectrum, but that for a Democrat to win in an election against Campfield, he or she would have to "start extremely early and campaign the shit out of it."
Stevens also said the decision to drop out of the race had been brewing for months, especially when he found himself prioritizing his private life before politics. But it was also the world of politics itself that turned Stevens off.
"I had a meeting with a guy who offered me money to change my views," he says. "It really was about schmoozing to other people. It was about 1,000 people in the community who mattered."
But it was also the frosty reception he received from local political players that discouraged him.
"There were people who I thought would hate me...and they were the nicest people in the world." Conversely, Stevens says some in his own party actively waged a smear campaign against him, even referring to him as "the Tea Party candidate." His experience with a few members of the local party "left a sour taste in my mouth."
Stevens, whose Facebook page has 3,175 likes, says he'd be glad to team up with the state Democratic Party (which has 4,589 likes on Facebook) to leverage his team's internet savvy to gain more support statewide.
Though Stevens has said he'll support Briggs in the 2014 election, he says he'll reconsider if the commissioner says anything against the LGBT community. But Stevens says so far he's been impressed with Briggs.
"The person I've met and the person on the news seem like the same person," Stevens says.
As for a future in politics for Stevens?
"That is not in the cards," he says. "I can never say never to anything, but it would have to be way down the road."
Stevens is still a professor at UT, and says education is the best place for him to be.