Democrat Lakesha Burton’s Jacksonville Sheriff campaign is rejecting calls from the Republican Party of Duval County to exit the contest in the wake of so-called “turmoil” in the campaign.
“We’ve seen desperate campaigns before, but we’re surprised TK Waters and the Duval GOP are showing their fear this early. What are they afraid of this far out from the election?” the Burton campaign said.
“TK Waters should move out of his glass house, wherever he lives these days, and try to campaign on making Jacksonville safer,” the Burton campaign added, responding to a press release from the county GOP that claimed Burton dismissing consultant John Daigle was a sign she should get out of the Sheriff’s race altogether.
“After dodging questions for weeks about her shady campaign activity and unethical election conduct, Lakesha Burton finally took action. Unfortunately, Burton didn’t take responsibility for her clear failure in judgment but chose to pass the buck. Burton fired her consultant after a former judge and prosecutor allege Burton’s campaign broke multiple election laws and illegally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Black contends, citing a complaint filed by Jeri O’Hara spotlighted by the Florida’s Voice website.
The complaint accuses Burton of using her political committee to expressly advocate for her election, and urging donors to donate multiple times in excess of statutory limits.
“Our message to ‘Lawless’ Lakesha Burton is simple: The only acceptable response is to apologize to her donors for her misuse of funds and to withdraw from the race for her failure in judgment and clear lack of integrity. She can’t be expected to enforce Jacksonville’s laws if she can’t follow the law herself,” Black charges.
A statement the Burton campaign offered yesterday framed the dismissal of Daigle, a veteran Jacksonville political consultant, as akin to halftime adjustments during a game.
“When Chief Burton played basketball, it was very common at halftime for the coach to review what happened in the first half that worked, and what didn’t, then make any changes needed. That’s what happened here. After the primary, the campaign reviewed the first half and felt a change will give Chief Burton a better chance to win in November,” Burton’s campaign contended.
The campaign is still interviewing political consultants, an interesting problem to solve with 56 days until Election Day.
Burton is in a runoff this November against Republican T.K. Waters in a Special Election for Jacksonville Sheriff. Waters, the sole Republican running, got 47% in August. Burton got 33%, which led the field of four Democrats running.
In addition to hiring a consultant, Burton has significant ground to make up for in terms of fundraising. Between his campaign account and his political committee, Waters has nearly $800,000 cash on hand. Burton has under $300,000 cash in hand between her campaign account and political committee, a number boosted by a $149,000 donation from insurance executive David Miller on Aug. 29.
Burton should get a shot in the arm this weekend when she rallies with Senate candidate Val Demings Saturday at a location to be announced. The move provides some evidence of a coordinated ticket.
The names on hand include CFO nominee and former Rep. Adam Hattersley, Florida’s 4th Congressional District nominee Lashonda “L.J.” Holloway, state Senate candidate and outgoing Rep. Tracie Davis, and House hopeful Michael Anderson.
State Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville mayoral contender and fellow 2023 candidate, will also be on hand. The other major Democratic candidate for Mayor, Donna Deegan, is not yet advertised as appearing Saturday.