Carmine Marceno goes negative on Jim Leavens in final campaign push

Marceno Leavens
Lawmen duel in Republican primary.

As the primary campaign for Lee County Sheriff entered its final days, incumbent Carmine Marceno went negative against his GOP challenger.

Mailers struck Jim Leavens for a recession-era home foreclosure. It also suggests Leavens, who worked at the Sheriff’s Office 1988 to 2018, had a less-than-spotless record.

“Jim Leavens violated Sheriff’s Department policies for handling dangerous inmates, putting employees and the public at risk, and made threats against employees who called out his violation of safety standards,” the mailer reads.

But at the Leavens camp, the negative advertising coming from Marceno revealed weakness.

“We take this desperate attack as an indicator that the voters of Lee County have seen through the shallow facade of Carmine Marceno and are choosing Jim Leavens to be the next sheriff of Lee County,” reads a statement from Leavens’ campaign.

Call it an exclamation point on a controversial Sheriff election. Marceno faces his first actual vote on Tuesday since being appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott to fill out former Sheriff Mike Scott’s fourth term after his 2018 retirement. He had served as Sheriff Scott’s Undersheriff but had only been with the department since 2013.

Leavens feels his experience beats Marceno’s any day, having retired as a Major after serving in Lee County in every department from corrections to homicide to internal affairs.

But Marceno has also battled a series of negative headlines. Some involved run of the mill issues like decisions to cut funding on popular programs. But some were personal, like when texts surfaced of him demanding his now-ex get an abortion.

More recently, a candidate for Lee County Commission filed an ethics complaint against Marceno regarding a trip to a Tallahassee retirement party that the Sheriff categorized as “career development” for himself and six deputies.

Leavens hopes that creates a climate where Republican voters choose change in the Aug. 18 primary.

At the same time, Marceno still enjoys a hefty cash advantage. Leavens has raised $107,951 for the race, solid for a first time candidate. But it’s a fraction of the $510,150 reported by Marceno, and the Sheriff’s affiliated political committee Conservative Champion Leaders, which pulled in another $494,352.

Lee voters have shown a willingness to fire Sheriffs before, voting two of the last three out at the ballot box.

Jacob Ogles

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 jacobogles@hotmail.com.


One comment

  • Edward Freeman

    August 18, 2020 at 1:17 am

    All you really need to know is that Carmine Marceno was appointed Sheriff by Prick Scott to be sure that Mr Marceno is as corrupt as they come. Mr. Scott stole more money from the sick, disabled, poor and elderly through his largest every medicare/medicaid fraud scheme than all the thieves in all of Florida prisons combined have stolen. Anyone appointed by Prick Scott is more likely to belong in prison than in public office.

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