A Northeast Florida Sheriff facing a competitive primary used department resources to make a self-promotional video this week under the guise of combatting civil unrest.
The message to would-be protesters: “You’ve been warned.”
(The message to political opponents, meanwhile, is one of the power and prerogatives of incumbency, especially in a crowded field of candidates.)
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels released Tuesday a red meat video vowing to, if needed, deputize gun owners in the event Black Lives Matter protesters came into the county.
“Somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say ‘enough is enough,'” said Daniels, vowing that “if we can’t handle you …. I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county.”
The warning (not a “threat,” Daniels says repeatedly), is especially interesting, given that Camp Blanding, from which the National Guard could deploy as it did during riots in actual cities, is in the county.
The three-minute video is full of the kind of bluster that traditionally plays well in Clay.
“If you threaten to come to Clay County and think for one second we’ll bend our backs for you, you’re sadly mistaken,” Daniels said.
“You can threaten all you want, you can say ‘let’s go to Clay County’,” but “you’ll have something waiting for you you don’t want,” he added.
“The second you step out from under the protection of the Constitution, we’ll be waiting for you, and you’ll have everything you want. All the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour and glory, for all that five minutes will give you,” Daniels promised, in a video that plays up contrasts between Clay County and urban areas, with a little flash for Fox News should they pick it up.
“God is absent from the media’s message or Black Lives Matter or any other group out there that’s making themselves a spectacle,” Daniels theorized.
Wherever God is or isn’t, Daniels himself picked up earned media at the right time, running fourth in the money race for the August primary.
Daniels, who has $38,514 on hand, trails opponents Ben Carroll, Michelle Cook, and Mike Taylor.
Cook said Daniels was acting like a “reality show sheriff” and called the video a “political scam.”
However, in a seven-way race, the ability to leverage the public resources with the needs of a corporate media starved for any content that affirms the social order has a value that won’t show up in campaign finance, but could show up in October.
Despite an FDLE investigation dating to last summer, polling this spring showed Daniels well positioned in August, with strong approval numbers.
This video probably won’t hurt those numbers.