Leon Co. Sheriff defends Andrew Gillum amid hurricane criticism

Sheriff Walt McNeil

Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum is hoping to offset the effects of two attack ads questioning his leadership during the 2016 hurricane that struck the capital city.

The chosen surrogate to mount a defense: Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, a Democrat who earlier this week endorsed Gillum’s bid for Governor. McNeil was not yet sheriff when Hurricane Hermine struck Tallahassee.

“Hurricanes don’t have a party affiliation,” McNeil says in a new 30-second video produced by the Gillum campaign. “And neither should our response efforts.”

McNeil is addressing the latest hits from the Florida GOP. He was Tallahassee police chief before becoming Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice and also Department of Corrections under then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

On Thursday, the party released two new television ads featuring testimonials from Tallahassee residents who blame Gillum for the delayed restoration of power in the wake of Hermine, which struck in August 2016.

“Gillum refused help from workers,” one woman charges. Adds another: “Gillum turned away workers who could have restored our power.”

After the storm, Tallahassee officials said they did not “reject” offers of help from outside utilities in the wake of Hurricane Hermine, but rather just didn’t say “yes” to everyone right away.

And at the time, Gillum told Florida Politics he was in the dark about a formal offer by Florida Power & Light to help restore power after Hermine.

City utilities chief Rob McGarrah later explained at a special post-storm meeting that too many line workers, rather than being a boon, would have presented a coordination and safety nightmare.

“… If crew A doesn’t know where crew B is, and we energize a line, somebody’s going to get hurt,” McGarrah said then. “It’s about what we can manage … everybody I know in our business does it that way.”

In the clip featuring McNeil, the Sheriff accuses Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, of politicizing natural disasters.

“I’m disappointed Ron DeSantis is lying about Mayor Andrew Gillum and I’m appalled he’s using hurricanes to score political points,” says McNeil in the video. He claims Gillum “led our city courageously.”

The video for now is running on digital channels only, according to the Gillum campaign.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny is a contributor at floridapolitics.com. He is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. Reach him at [email protected].


  • Juan Ruiz

    October 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Crime is terrible in Tallahassee. Also, Gillum is a puppet of George Soros, and says he is proud to take money from Soros who is at war with law enforcement through all of those Soros BLM and other radical leftist groups who really are responsible for several police deaths with their anti-police rhetoric. No real law enforcement would support a Soros candidate.

    • Juan Ruiz

      October 6, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      Wow I did such a good job of hitting all the far right eackjob conspiracy theory talking points. I’m sure good at parroting things I saw in memes!

      • David Ellis

        October 11, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        And Juan, you need to learn what talking points are. That is what your party and liberal media does on a daily basis. Every single liberal television, liberal print, liberal pundit, liberal celebrities, liberal late night talk shows and shows like The View all have the same daily talking points. It is such a joke and you liberal sheep don’t see it. Now those are talking points. That they all repeat the same lie and faux outrage for that day against any sitting Republican president. What you claim to be “Republican talking points” are actual facts that you mentioned. Learn the difference.

    • Katie Quanto

      October 11, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Juan, those aren’t talking points. Why don’t you try doing a search on Gillum and Soros. “Andrew Gillum is getting some major last minute help from a couple familiar names.

      Billionaire donors George Soros and Tom Steyer are directing $650,000 to Gillum’s political committee, Forward Florida — a last-minute cash infusion aimed at boosting the Tallahassee mayor in the closing days of the Democratic primary of the Florida governor’s race.

      The donations, according to Politico which first reported them, come in the form of $250,000 from Soros, $300,000 from Steyer and another $100,000 from anonymous donors “affiliated with” the two billionaires.” Source: Tampa Bay Times Why don’t you try looking up who George Soros is and the damage he leaves behind him. He’s been around for decades.

  • Bonita Knapp

    October 6, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    George Soros, really?nowhere do you bozos get your info? The Koch Brothers? Frankly voting red means democracys dead.

    • Dante

      October 11, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Yeah, vote blue or you’ll get beat or killed because there is no tolerance from the Democratic now Socialist Party. “Frankly voting red means democracys dead.” What a joke. Do you hear yourself? Are you watching what your party is doing? They are using the tactics of the Nazi’s. Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, and many others from the DNC are telling you to go harass and hurt Republicans/Conservatives. You’re okay with that? Isn’t that destroying our democracy? What happened to tolerance? Isn’t this supposed to be a free country where people are allowed to have a different opinion than someone else. Allowed to have that opinion without worry of getting harassed, getting beat up or killed. The Nazi’s used these tactics to get their people against the Jews. Now the DNC is using these tactics against Conservatives. Here are the tactics: Propaganda, emotion, fear, lies, violence (Brown Shirts=KKK, Union thugs, BLM and now Antifa), censoring news, using news, print, television, and radio to get their message out, using celebrities to repeat the propaganda and lies, keeping their sheep in the dark. Sound familiar. No one should be okay with their party telling their base to hurt another human being or be okay with your party asking that of you. Have you ever seen a Democrat’s free speech shut down? NEVER! Have you ever seen a Democrat beat up at a rally or voting poll or for just wearing a t-shirt or hat? NEVER. If Trump is supposedly asking his base to do those things, then why haven’t you heard of that happening to any Democrat? We’ve never seen one single Democrat ever been ran out of a restaurant, movie theater, harassed for just walking down the streets, etc. Everything the Democrats accuse the Republicans of doing, is exactly what they are guilty of. Wake up.

  • Larry R.

    October 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Ya know…Democrats are not the enemy nor are republicans the enemy. It is our own government that divides us through devious advertisements that polarize extremes. Vote everyone out of office, enforce term limits and get rid of lobbyists aka special interest groups, after all they are the people who write laws and benefit.

    • Susan

      October 9, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      What an awesome statement and so very true!!

    • Roseann

      October 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm


    • Dante

      October 11, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      I have to disagree. Actually the DNC is the enemy. Any time a political party is telling their base to harass, beat up or kill people from another political party because someone has a different opinion than theirs; how are you not an enemy. Our government is made up of Democrats, Socialist, Communist, Republicans, Independent and Libertarians. Who is calling for the violence? The DNC, the Socialists, the Communists in our government -which are all rolled up in the DNC. When we watch ANTIFA thugs stopping cars, beating on the cars, scaring the drivers with violence, doesn’t that scare you? That is what happened in Charlottesville when that woman was run over. The guy had a bunch of ANTIFA’s idiots beating on his car, he put it in reverse and floored to get away from them, hitting that woman who happened to be in the wrong place. So thank ANTIFA for that. The only violence that is happening in this country is by the Democrats. The only thing to do is vote Republican this midterm and work on getting people that will work for the people instead of their party. So in other words, vote out the DEMS.


    October 8, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    It behooves me that the Woman saying her son needs to have air conditioning because of a medical condition and the heat is worse for him 1-lives in Florida where it is very hot, 2- does not have a generator at her home and 3- did not think to get out of Florida until her electricity came back on like so many did.

    • David

      October 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Looks like you got auto-corrected — “behoove” means something is a duty or responsibility, or a apt or appropriate.

  • jose rodriguez

    October 8, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    I couldn’t believe that Gillum rejected help after the hurricane and I of course he did not. It is a lie in the republican tv ad. People should get better informed before voting.

  • Nicci J.

    October 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I’m new to the state as a permanent resident, so I’m glad I have been doing my due diligence on the candidates; because if I were completely swayed by the television ads, i
    I’d be left staring at the ballot sheet come Nov 6.

  • Alicia S.

    October 10, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Larry R. , you are so right! The tone of congeniality has been set from the top. We are purposely being divided, by hateful rhetoric , pitting us against one another. Destroying & hating each other is not what is good for America. It does not make us stronger , as a nation . It weakens us!

  • Katie Quanto

    October 11, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, do your homework. Understand what any Socialist like Andrew Gullium will do to our state. If you promise free everything, someone has to pay for it. And guess who that will be? Anyone that lives in Florida and anyone that visits our state. Right now we are the state of “no grocery tax, no personal property tax and no state tax”, but that will all go away, and not only will be paying taxes on all those things, everything will be taxed at a higher rate in order to pay for those getting freebies. Look at California. The Dems have ruined that state, and they are ruining Washington State and Oregon with all the high taxes, homelessness and dirty needles piling up everywhere. Socialism is never a good thing and has never been a good thing. Just look at Venezuela for a recent example.

Comments are closed.


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