Donors have bet big on Jacksonville Sheriff candidates
T.K. Waters could be the next sheriff. Image via AG Gancarski.

Waters Rutherford Williams
Two candidates have raised more than $1 million.

Even before Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced Thursday that he is retiring, major money was already engaged in the 2023 race to replace him.

Williams was near the end of his second and final term as Sheriff when he decided to resign, and candidates fundraising for a 2023 campaign now will be compelled to redirect to a Special Election this year, with a First Election likely on the August ballot and a General Election runoff in November.

Two candidates have raised more than $1 million. While Republican T.K. Waters — Williams’ preferred replacement — is still the leading fundraiser, Democrat Lakesha Burton closed the gap with Waters in April, the last month financial records for the race are available.

Burton’s state-level Make Every Voice Count political committee raised $186,000, its most productive month since May 2021. The committee has raised more than $861,000 and has more than $855,000 on hand. Burton also added a little more than $11,000 in hard money in April, leaving her with nearly $147,000 on hand.

Waters likewise raised a little more than $10,000 to his campaign account in April, and he now has more than $260,000 on hand. His political committee, A Safer Jacksonville for All, has more than $830,000 raised and almost $800,000 on hand.

Other candidates in the field aren’t matching Burton and Waters. Republican Mat Nemeth has a little more than $65,000, raising $11,800 in April, good for third place in fundraising.

Behind Nemeth are three Democrats, two of whom have run before.

Ken Jefferson raised more than $25,000 in April. Jefferson, a former spokesperson for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, is known to local television news viewers as a crime analyst. He lost narrowly to term-limited incumbent Mike Williams in 2015’s General Election. Jefferson has raised a little more than $46,000, but has spent over $20,000 of that sum already.

Wayne Clark has raised over $32,000 as a candidate, and has spent more than $28,000 of that. He raised $790 in April.

Tony Cummings, who has run twice before, loaned his campaign $50 in April. That was the account’s sole activity.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been urged to appoint Waters to serve through a Special Election, per multiple sources, and if that happens that would confer an essential incumbency on the current Chief. DeSantis’ office is mum so far on the new vacancy in the Sheriff’s Office.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn