Clovis Watson to run for Alachua County Sheriff

Clovis Watson
“We need law enforcement and a Sheriff that will focus on the community first"

Democratic Rep. Clovis Watson is running for Alachua County Sheriff.

The fourth term lawmaker and former law enforcement officer announced his campaign Wednesday.

The move sets up a Democratic primary between Watson and current Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who has held the position since 2006.

The race has some interesting wrinkles — Darnell is the only woman sheriff in the state, but, if elected, Watson would be the county’s first African-American sheriff.

In the announcement, Watson’s campaign said it was focused on on public safety, equality, protecting students, and community policing.

“The bottom line is I believe every citizen of our county deserves to feel safe in their neighborhood,” Watson said.

“We need law enforcement and a Sheriff that will focus on the community first, that will put principles above politics, that will bring all voices to the table. I will be that Sheriff and I’m excited to earn the support of our residents over the next year.”

Watson is an Alachua County native whose law enforcement career was capped with a stint as deputy chief in the Alachua Police Department. He later served as city manager.

Watson also has some Democratic bonafides that could seperate him from Darnell in a primary race.

Following the 2019 Legislative Session, he received the “People’s Champion” award from Progress Florida and in 2016 he earned a “Voice of Equality” award from Equality Florida. He’s also been lauded by firefighters for his push to expand their health benefits.

In contrast, Darnell is among the more conservative Democratic sheriffs in the state — in the 2018 election cycle, she backed former Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley for Agriculture Commissioner as well as Rick Scott for U.S. Senate.

In addition to Darnell and Watson, Republican Steven Gordon is campaigning for the job.

The seat will likely remain in Democratic control, however, as Alachua County is reliably blue. About 48 percent of the electorate are registered Democrats compared to a 28 percent share for Republicans.

Darnell’s 2016 campaign ended with a 67-33 percent victory over Republican Jack Jacobs, and in 2012 she earned more than 80 percent of the vote. She has also performed well in primary races, earning more than 60 percent of the vote the last two times she’s faced an intraparty challenge.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

One comment

  • gary

    August 21, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Another fine Nazi approach to create division, Drew!

    Democrats always find away to divide people. “Only female sheriff in the state”…. “first black sheriff in the county” bunch of nonsense! The people DO NOT CARE about that bullshat! Who is the best for the job!

    Hitler used the same method to destroy a nation.

Comments are closed.


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