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Tom Lee endorses Chad Chronister

Chronister faces vocal opposition from the left and the right.

Senator Tom Lee is endorsing Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister in his reelection bid, the campaign announced Wednesday.

“I support the Sheriff and the men and women he has deputized to keep our community safe. Fighting crime isn’t easy and COVID-19 has presented some unique and unprecedented challenged to our entire community,” Lee, a former Senate President, said. “Through it all, Sheriff Chronister has worked tirelessly, day in and out, to uphold the oath he took to enforce our laws and keep us safe.”

Chronister faces former Sheriff’s detective Charles Boswell in the Republican primary. Two Democrats are running for their party’s nomination – Gary Pruitt and Ronald McMullen.

Chronister faces a bitter battle as two candidates — Pruitt and Boswell — are running on a platform centered on discrediting his leadership.

Boswell is suing the Sheriff’s office, and a host of individuals associated with the office including Chronister, over allegations that he was retaliated against for refusing to falsify information related to a witness interview.

Boswell was forced out of the Sheriff’s office after being demoted when complaints against him for conduct unbecoming and others were upheld.

Chronister might also face opposition from within the local Republican Party after the Hillsborough GOP sent out an email this week promoting a Boswell candidate event including a link to donate to the candidate’s campaign.

The party claims they are not endorsing a candidate in the race and only sent the flyer out as a courtesy extended to all Republicans, however the email didn’t include a disclaimer that it was not an endorsement and a key Republicans operative said other Republican candidates have not been extended the same courtesy.

Lee’s endorsement carries weight. The former Senate President has been active in state politics for two decades. Most recently he made news when he tenured his resignation from the Senate, effective November 3, and speculated that he may run for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court this year.

“Having the endorsement of a community leader with the experience of Senator Tom Lee validates the great work we have been doing at the Sheriff’s Office. I am proud to have his support and thankful for his partnership,” Chronister said.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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