Jefferson is the seventh candidate in the race, more than a year before the First Election.
His first campaign saw him breeze to a first place finish in the First Election in March 2015 before the General Election took a different turn.
The runoff between Jefferson and Republican Mike Williams was pitched with accusations and counterattacks. After his defeat, Jefferson gave a speech about when a candidate has to resort to “nasty ugly rhetoric to get into office, the people get what they get,” voicing his refusal “to get down and play in the mud.”
Jefferson also had run for Sheriff in 2011, losing then to current Rep. John Rutherford, who won his third and last term.
Jefferson improved his vote share from 38% in 2011 to 48% in the 2015 General Election, and he has maintained visibility in Jacksonville as a public safety commentator on local television stations. But he will face a new field of candidates this time around.
Democrat Lakesha Burton has roughly $750,000 on hand between her Make Every Voice Count political committee and campaign account, and she was preferred by 39% of all respondents in a poll from the University of North Florida released Thursday. The UNF poll found 53% of female voters and 68% of Black voters backed her, as did 71% of Democrats.
Republican T.K. Waters’ 27% support was good for second place in the UNF survey, and he likewise has around $750,000 on hand between his A Safer Jacksonville for All political committee and his campaign account. In the UNF survey, 48% of NPA voters surveyed preferred Waters, well ahead of any competition with that cohort.
Other candidates who have been struggling to match the front-runners in fundraising likewise are trailing in the latest polling. Republican Mat Nemeth was the choice of just 15% of those surveyed by UNF. Democrats Tony Cummings and Wayne Clark, meanwhile, had just 4% and 2% support, respectively.
The third time may be the charm for Jefferson. But he will have to make up some ground in terms of fundraising sooner rather than later.