Gov. Ron DeSantis is one step closer to getting his preferred candidate installed as Jacksonville Sheriff.
DeSantis endorsed Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters earlier this month and now it appears the other Republican in the race got the message Friday, folding his campaign and endorsing Waters to lead the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO).
“T.K. has the right experience and integrity to lead the JSO,” Mat Nemeth asserted.
Waters led the fundraising race even before DeSantis gave his blessing. He raised more than $51,000 last month, giving him roughly $312,000 in his campaign account, far and away the best hard cash in the field.
Waters also has the best political committee performance in the field, raising more than $80,000 in May, with nearly $875,000 in the A Safer Jacksonville for All account. Waters is approaching $1.2 million on hand overall, and the DeSantis endorsement ensures that June fundraising will continue that strong trend.
Democrat Lakesha Burton continues to be the second strongest fundraiser in the race, but with three other Democrats filed, the retired Chief seems to have lost some momentum in May.
Burton’s Make Every Voice Count political committee has more than $860,000 on hand. She also has more than $145,000 cash on hand in her campaign account.
Three Democrats have qualified for the ballot along with Burton. After months as an active candidate, Wayne Clark has a few thousand dollars. And Tony Cummings, who has run twice before, has under $300 — also after months in the field.
Perennial candidate Ken Jefferson raised a little more than $10,000 last month and has under $30,000 cash on hand. He has run multiple times before as well, and qualified for the Special Election Thursday.
The first round of the Special Election, pitting all candidates on the same ballot, is with the August Primary. If no one gets a majority, the top two finishers move on to the November General Election.
No matter who wins, the term will be short; Jacksonville will hold Municipal Elections in Spring 2023.
The opening comes after the unexpected retirement of former Sheriff Mike Williams, who left office after a report he’d moved out of the county, a violation of the city charter. Pat Ivey, the previous undersheriff, is Williams’ temporary replacement.