Sebring state Sen. Denise Grimsley‘s campaign to be Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture has earned the backing of two more county sheriffs, bringing the total number to lawmen backing her campaign to 29.
Thursday’s nods came in from Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell and Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz, who join the sheriffs of Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Levy, Putnam, Marion and Union counties to give the Grimsley campaign a monopoly on North Central Florida law enforcement.
“It is my honor to support Denise Grimsley,” said Schultz. “She has the grit and determination to do the job, and she understands the challenges facing rural Florida.”
Darnell added that “Denise is a law officer’s friend, and always has been. We can count on Denise Grimsley to have our backs and to help us keep your streets safe.”
That endorsement is somewhat notable given that, like most voters in the county she serves, Darnell is a Democrat. While she is the seventh Democratic county sheriff to cross party lines to endorse Grimsley, she is the first to do so since Florida Democrats got a competitive option in the statewide race with the entry of pro-marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried.
“I continue to be grateful to Florida’s finest for their support and endorsement of our campaign, and thank Sheriffs Darnell and Schultz for their endorsement today,” Grimsley said. “The women and men in our state’s law enforcement community have my respect and gratitude; and, if elected, I will be in their corner, fighting for the resources they need to protect and serve others in the line of duty and working alongside them to bring criminals to heel on behalf of Floridians.”
Also endorsing Grimsley is the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police. The only other candidate with significant law enforcement backing in the Cabinet race is Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, Grimsley’s chief rival in the Republican primary. He has the support of the Florida Police Benevolent Association and eight county sheriffs.
The two are running alongside retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican primary to succeed term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor. Caldwell and Grimsley are running neck-and-neck in fundraising, while Troutman has been heavily reliant on self-funding and McCalister has yet to show a competitive finance report.
The primary election is Aug. 28.