Looks like Cooper City mayoral candidate Gary Ross can start planning that victory party early. His opponent, Gary Laufenberg, tearfully announced he is dropping out of the race.
The reason: Laufenberg is basically taking the bullet for campaign aide and family friend Ryan Shrouder after he was caught stealing a Ross campaign sign from a restaurant on a surveillance camera. Shrouder reportedly stuffed the sign in a nearby garbage can.
Smooth move, ace.
Shrouder isn't a stranger to being a snot-nosed menace to society. In 2006, he was criminally charged with putting together a grade-tampering plot as -- wait for it -- the acting president of the senior class at Cooper City High School.
So now Laufenberg's campaign is in the tank, and it's basically because Shrouder douched him out of the race.
"I'm doing this for Ryan," Laufenberg told Bob Norman. "He's like my son, and they are going to ruin him. He's in law school... It's just not worth it to me. I'm out. I'm done. I can't deal with it."
Shrouder is studying to be a lawyer? PERFECT.
Laufenberg confirmed that a deal was struck that would keep Shrouder out of the can, if Laufenberg quit the race.
For his part, Ross claims there was no deal. He says Laufenberg's people asked him to convince the owner of Vita Italian Restaurant, Eric Gilreath, not to press charges. In return, Laufenberg would drop out.
"I told them that I wanted him to stay in the race," said Ross. "I'd have beaten him fair and square."
On his way out, Laufenberg had some parting shots for Ross and his peeps:
"They're evil, they're mean, they are ugly, and I can't deal with this. They were going to prosecute him and take him down. I resigned this morning, and they waived prosecution. You can figure this out. It's disgusting."
Way to get caught, Shrouder. Now we'll never know if stealing a campaign sign from a random restaurant in a strip mall would shift the balance of the election and give the candidate a landslide victory. Be smarter about it next time!