Sheriffs line up behind Andrew Gillum

Jerry Demings

The Democratic candidate for Governor is beginning to corral law enforcement interests around his campaign.

Andrew Gillum announced Wednesday that five former and current county sheriffs had endorsed his gubernatorial bid.

The wave of support comes from law enforcement leaders in North and Central Florida counties, including Osceola, Orange, Alachua, Gadsden, and Leon, where Gillum lives and presides as Mayor of Tallahassee.

Specifically, Gillum received support from Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Osceola County Sheriff Russell H. Gibson Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, and former Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who resigned his post earlier this year and was elected Mayor of the same county.

All of the endorsers are Democrats, and many noted Gillum’s gun control promises, like an all-out assault weapons ban, and his past victories in court against the National Rifle Association.

But Darnell, the Alachua sheriff, hasn’t always endorsed along party lines. She’s thrown her weight behind Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for the U.S. Senate. During the primary, she also endorsed Republican Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Denise Grimsley, who ultimately lost to Matt Caldwell.

McNeil, the sheriff in Gillum’s home territory, already spoke out in support of Gillum on the campaign trail. When Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis criticized Gillum about Tallahassee’s violent crime rates, McNeil released a statement saying that “violent crime is down 24 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent with crime at a five-year low in Tallahassee.”

On Wednesday, McNeil said: “I have personally worked with Andrew and have watched him work to build a safer community for our kids, work side by side with law enforcement to tackle violent crime, and stand up for common sense gun reform.”

Demings, whose popularity as sheriff helped elevate him to Orange’s mayoral post, said: “After 37 years in law enforcement, I know what it takes to keep our communities secure. Mayor Gillum brought the police and community together, reduced crime and took on the gun lobby to keep our families safer.”

During the primary, 48 of Florida’s 67 county sheriffs lined up to support Republican then-candidate Adam Putnam. Those sheriffs could transition their support to DeSantis, whose law enforcement platform is likely closer to Putnam’s than Gillum’s is.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at [email protected]


8 comments

    • Brad Whidden

      October 15, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      5 Sherrifs support Gillum including disgraced Scott Isreal might sound impressive except they omit that there are 66 Sherrifs in Fl and the rest support Rick Desantis….hmmm

  • Thomas C. Hooker

    October 3, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Sheriff Walt McNeil is a really good guy. Honorable. Caught up in the mess that is Andrew Gillum. No mention that Sheriff McNeil shared the same campaign manager in one Sean Pittman, lobbyist and investor in The Edison restaurant on City property downtown that was pushed along by Andrew Gillum at taxpayer expense. A frequent travelling companion think (Costa Rica), and best buds with Adam Corey. But no problem.

    “One day after lauding the actions of Mayor Andrew Gillum’s handling of the crime problem in Tallahassee, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil revised his remarks.

    In a statement released by the Gillum campaign and picked up by the Tampa Bay Times, McNeil said, “Under Mayor Andrew Gillum’s leadership, violent crime is down 24 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent with crime at a five-year low in Tallahassee. Mayor Gillum’s investments into more police officers, restorative justice, and community policing have made Tallahassee safer than when he became Mayor, period.”

    However, during an appearance on the The Morning Show with Preston Scott, Scott asked if McNeil’s comments regarding his assessment of Gillum’s action should have included the qualifier “since you have been sheriff?”

    McNeil responded by saying, “Perhaps you are right. The caveat should have been this is my perspective since I have been Sheriff.”

    McNeil was elected in 2016, which means his comments would be relevant for just less than two years.

    Ironically, during his campaign in 2016, McNeil made a campaign issue out of Leon County’s high crime rate and ran a dramatic television ad which showed a model home getting blown away by an apparent shotgun blast.

    Also, in a press conference addressing the crime rate on June 7, 2016 – while Gillum was mayor -McNeil said, “I do not see the outrage, the efforts, or a plan to address the issue. No one seems concerned.”

  • Charles Smith

    October 3, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    If crime was so low why did state troopers send 15-20 Troopers per month to Tallahassee for five to six months. Because crime was rampant. McNeill is talking about crime in the County. The crime in the City is through the roof.

  • Say NO to COMMUNISM

    October 4, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    WOW!!! A whole 5 sheriffs, out of a state with 67 counties! They are just lining up! What a JOKE! Any sheriff that supports this communist deserves NOT to be a DOG CATCHER! They are all authoritarian, anti constitution, pro open borders, pro MS-13, pro ISIS clowns who want to PROTECT criminals, while taking YOUR right to defend yourself! THIS is todays democrat party. Want to know what the difference is between them and communists? NOTHING!

  • Juan Ruiz

    October 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    VOTE DESANTIS. Gillum will be TERRIBLE for police — he is funded by George Soros, who wants to dismantle police, who funded BLM. MOST all police will be for DESANTIS who is tough on crim.

    No al socialismo. Latio and black unemployment is lowest in history, thank the republicans y gracias a dios.

    Socialism seems good at first but then destroys the economy. Go live in cuba or venezuela if you want that. Vote DeSantis!!!!!! Keep the economy amazing, keep family values, not atheist socialist “values” The socialists lie to get votes, do not believe Gillum He is funded by George Soros . Keep Florida low tax, family friendly, do not let LEFT get it and ruin it like they ruined all the big cities and many countries.

    Many people move to Florida due to no state income tax, low business tax. Not if Gillum and the leftists win. Please get out and vote DESANTIS.

    https://www.cnsnews.com/…/hispanic-unemployment-rate…

  • Craig

    October 10, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Corralling sheriffs??? Lol. There’s 66 sheriffs in Florida. He can’t even get 10%. Any law enforcement official that stands behind Gillum is a disgrace to their badge, shield, or star. Any tax payer that supports Gillum is a fool.

Comments are closed.


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