Clovis Watson touts pile of endorsements in Alachua Sheriff race

Clovis Watson
Bill Nelson, mayors, city commissioners and school board members line up behind Watson.

Democratic Rep. Clovis Watson has picked up endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and more than a dozen local officials in his bid for Alachua County Sheriff.

“Clovis has been an excellent Representative, his compassionate leadership is much needed as sheriff of Alachua County,” Nelson said in a news release.

Joining the longtime Senator in the bulk endorsement were Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe, Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Waldo Mayor Louie Davis, High Springs Mayor Byran Williams and Hawthorne Mayor Matthew Surrency.

Former Alachua County Sheriff Steve Oelrich, Alachua School Board members Tina Certain, Eileen Roy, Gunnar Paulson, Rob Hyatt and Gainesville City Commissioners Gail Johnson, Helen Warren, Harvey Ward and Adrian Hayes-Santos also gave Watson the nod.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Representative Clovis Watson Jr. both through my time as Mayor and for much of my time as City Commissioner. He has been our community’s number one advocate in Tallahassee, and just as importantly, an incredible advocate for our values,” Poe said.

“I am especially supportive of his efforts to increase equity in our community by reducing arrests and increasing diversion and deflection programs. I will miss him as our representative in Tallahassee, but am excited to see the positive, progressive change he will bring to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.”

Watson is running to unseat incumbent Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who is also a Democrat though decidedly more conservative than Watson. In 2018, Darnell endorsed now-U. S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican, in his campaign to oust Nelson.

Watson, meanwhile, has earned lauds from several progressive groups during his eight years in the Legislature, including a “People’s Champion” award from Progress Florida last year and a “Voice of Equality” award from Equality Florida in 2016.

Darnell and Watson are currently the only candidates running for the seat. Even if another candidate were to file, Alachua County’s strong Democratic lean makes the winner of the Aug. 18 primary election the odds on favorite to be Sheriff come 2021.

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.


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