Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is endorsing Kevin Hayslett in his run for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Judd is recognized across the state as an outspoken defender of law enforcement, often captured in sound bites and press events. This year, Judd was named “Sheriff of the Year” by the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA). As such a well-known conservative figure, his endorsement is coveted among Tampa Bay Republicans.
“Kevin Hayslett has earned the backing of the law enforcement community because he is a candidate we can trust to be tough on crime and back the blue at this critical time in our country. Florida needs strong leaders who will fight for us in Congress and I’m proud to stand with Kevin Hayslett because he’ll stand with all law enforcement,” Judd said in a statement.
Judd joins Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former Sheriff Jim Coats in backing former prosecutor Hayslett.
“I am incredibly proud to have the support of Sheriff Judd. He is one of the strongest, most accomplished leaders in Florida and I’m humbled to earn his trust. I am running because we need a leader who knows how to stand up to (Joe) Biden and (Nancy) Pelosi, and who will always support law enforcement as radical leftists try to defund the police. I’m excited to work with leaders like Sheriff Judd to protect our community and put an end to weak leadership threatening our nation,” Hayslett said in a statement.
Hayslett launched his campaign at the end of January, facing a crowded GOP Primary including nonprofit founder Audrey Henson, Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, Republican strategist Amanda Makki and Christine Quinn. Makki lost the Republican Primary to Luna in 2020.
The district, which has changed due to redistricting, now extends further north into traditionally red parts of Pinellas County and eliminates parts of St. Petersburg, the currently drawn district’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold. This has left one Democratic candidate — former Obama administration official Eric Lynn — in the race.
Candidates are running to replace outgoing Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as he runs for Governor.