Ron DeSantis names Gregory Tony as a favorite Florida Democrat

‘He has a great life story.’

Ron DeSantis isn’t a fan of most Democratic officials in Florida. But if more want to win his favor, he said, they should take notes from Sheriff Gregory Tony.

Asked by Jake Tapper during a CNN town hall in Iowa who his favorite Democratic official is, the Florida Governor first waffled over the question, apparently anxious about the criticism he might receive.

“Oh man,” he said. “The minute I do that, they’re all of a sudden going to have a …”

Tapper then interjected to repeat his query with more leeway: “Maybe give me one who is in the top 10.”

Not missing a beat, DeSantis named Tony, a controversial figure whom the Governor appointed in January 2019 to replace suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

He also listed Rick Bradshaw, who is now running for a record sixth term as Sheriff of Palm Beach County, and referred to former St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara by position, but not name.

“I appointed a fellow down, the Sheriff of Broward, to replace Scott Israel, who was, he had a great life story,” he said. “We put him in there, Greg Tony. We also just had, we actually just had a Sheriff that was a Democrat from St. Lucie County who we worked very closely with, (and) Ric Bradshaw of Palm Beach County, great guy.”

Many would agree Bradshaw, a five-term Sheriff in a heavily left-leaning county last re-elected by a 30-point margin, was a solid pick. They’d likely say the same of Mascara, who abruptly resigned this month for health reasons after two-plus decades as St. Lucie’s top cop.

DeSantis’ selection of Tony, however, raised eyebrows.

Since his appointment, Tony has faced ethics complaints and calls to resign — or for DeSantis to suspend him, as he did Israel — for failing to disclose on his applications for Sheriff and the Coral Springs Police Department that he was arrested as a Philadelphia teen for killing a man.

It was also revealed that Tony, who won election as Sheriff in 2020 despite the fatal 1993 shooting, wrote a bad check and used LSD.

The state Commission on Ethics has since found Tony misused his office and lied by not disclosing the incidents. An administrative trial on the matter has been pushed to February.

DeSantis indicated Tuesday that he picked Bradshaw, Mascara and Tony — the latter of whom switched from Republican to Democrat shortly after his appointment — because they still worked with him after he launched his presidential campaign.

“You know, it shows you there really isn’t much difference in some of these issues when you’re dealing with it. So yeah, we do that,” he said. “I think what happened is the minute, like, I started to go a little national, it was tougher for some of the Dems to want to work because they get blowback from their base. And that’s just the situation that we find ourselves in. But we do have some good ones in Florida.”

At least one prominent jeer over DeSantis’ choice of Tony as his “favorite Florida Democrat” came quickly on social media.

“Wow, Ron DeSantis just told @JakeTapper that his favorite Florida Democrat is Broward County Sheriff, Gregory, Tony, a pro-BLM, pro-Islamic extremist who lied about being tried for both murder and drug dealing when he applied to be appointed to a vacancy in the sheriff’s office by Ron DeSantis,” said political operative Roger Stone, an ally of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, in a post on X.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Kevin Bolling

    December 15, 2023 at 11:24 pm

    Appointed Broward Sheriff tony/toney (he has committed murder, LSD drug use, bad checks had his drivers license suspended
    In three states, lied on local, state and Federal legal forms. Fired honerable Deputies for doing their job, and against bad sh*tbags. All got their jobs, back pay and legal fees paid. Governor DeSantis big mistake Broward is not safe with this guy, he is wasting and stealing tax dollars.

Comments are closed.


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, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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