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Jim Leavens announced in January 2019 he's running for Lee County Sheriff in 2020.

SW Florida

Personhood Florida picks Jim Leavens over sitting Lee Co. Sheriff

Carmine upset pro-life activists by urging an ex to get an abortion.

A prominent anti-abortion group in Florida is endorsing a candidate trying to unseat the Lee County’s Sheriff.

The Personhood Florida PAC endorsed Jim Leavens, a retired Sheriff’s Department Major, in his Republican primary challenge against incumbent Sheriff Jim Leavens.

In a letter to the Leavens campaign, the organization said Leavens met criteria for its support. Leavens was among 65 for candidates in races across the state to receive the group’s endorsement.

“As the only pro-life Republican running for sheriff of Lee County having the endorsement of Personhood Florida is very special to me,” Leavens wrote in a letter to supporters. “While the position of sheriff should not be political, the person who is Sheriff should uphold the value they say they hold.”

The statewide organization also endorsed independent Carmen McKinney, who will face the Republican nominee in the general election, be it Marceno or Leavens.

The Leavens campaign announced several other endorsements the same day, including one from El Ahava Messianic Synagogue Senior Rabbi Charles Edwards.

“I have always known him to be strong, respectable and trustworthy,” Edwards wrote in an open letter.

“I hold the conservative values that so many pro life Republicans hold,” Leavens added.

The endorsement may be most important as a rebuke to a sitting Sheriff in a conservative county. Marceno has been dogged about questions regarding his personal life, encouraging an ex, who was a reporting crime victim, who made public texts Marceno sent urging her to get an abortion.

While that has agitated a sect of the party, the Sheriff still holds a substantial advantage in financial resources. As of July 10, he raised $485,665 to Leavens’ $93,631.

Democrat Robert Neeld and independent Coach Ray are also running.

Leavens also picked up support from Congressional candidate Dan Severson, who is also running an anti-abortion campaign.

Sheriff’s Office veterans including retired Capt. Bradley Grossman and former employee Jonathan Washer also backed Leavens for the office.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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