Facing an ongoing FDLE investigation and a crowded primary field, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has floundered in terms of stretch-run fundraising ahead of the Aug. 18 GOP primary.
The week covering July 25-31 saw the lawman’s fundraising flatline during one of the most pivotal stretches of the campaign.
He raised a total of $1,987 the last week of July, and the two weeks prior were not much better, at $3,165 and $4,490 respectively.
For Daniels, the reelection bid has come amidst a state-level investigation of an abuse of power claim dating back to 2019. That matter, which he says is “political” in nature, won’t be resolved before the votes are counted.
The Sheriff, third in the fundraising derby with $90,757 raised through the end of July, lags behind Atlantic Beach Police Chief Michelle Cook, who has raised $164,975 and Mike Taylor, who raised $111,098.
However, he has used the power of incumbency and a knack for drawing headlines to create earned media moments to overcome the cash crunch.
As July began, the first-term Republican Sheriff brooked controversy with a challenge to Black Lives Matter protesters who may make their way to normally sleepy Clay County. He said he would deputize lawful gun owners.
“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 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 addition to playing to the right, Daniels has offered olive branches to critics.
Days before early voting began, the Sheriff held a community forum, predicated around “bridging the gap” between law enforcement and citizens.