HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bryan Jeremiah was campaigning as a Republican for the state House seat in Ewa Beach. He wanted to tackle traffic problems and infrastructure issues. He bought flyers and handouts and hung banners and signs.
"All I wanted to do was give back to the community," he said.
But last week, Republican party leaders sent a message -- they would not endorse or represent him.
"I really felt like I was punched in the stomach and I lost all my wind," he said.
The problem was Jeremiah's criminal background. When he was 17 he was arrested for armed robbery, then busted for selling drugs. He served four years in prison. His last arrest was 12 years ago. He is now 51.
"I knew that was no longer who I was. And I knew that for the rest of my life I would fight to try and build a life away from that," he said.
He was asked to withdraw and he did.
In a statement Hawaii Republican Party executive director Kayla Berube said: "We wish Mr. Jeremiah the best, and look forward to providing the people of Hawaii with great candidates in District 41 and across the state."
Jeremiah thought he was that candidate.
"I had always thought that it's about the heart of a person, and their willingness to represent their community, and their best interest," he said.
Jeremiah told elections officials he was a convicted felon when he filed his papers. He gave them his Paroling Authority release form, and was sworn in as a candidate. He wishes Republican leaders had met with him personally before pulling the plug.
"I wanted to not put a positive spin on it. I just wanted people to hear my voice. I wanted them to come alongside this Bryan Jeremiah," he said.
Jeremiah and his wife have five children and four grandchildren. He is an associate pastor at his church where he's spoken publicly about his failures and how his life has turned around.
"I'm ashamed of the things I did. But to be honest, I don't think I'd be the person today that I am, a God fearing man, had that not happened," he said.
He said he withdrew his candidacy out of respect for the Republican Party. But he still wants to run and believes he can serve effectively. He's mulling over what to do next.