Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister will officially kick off his re-election bid later this month.
Chronister announced in early January that he would seek a third elected term. Chronister has served since 2017 when he was appointed to office by then-Gov. Rick Scott. He was subsequently elected by voters in 2018 and re-elected in 2022.
The kickoff reception will be held Feb. 28 at The Gathering at Armature Works from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The minimum suggested contributions to attend the VIP event is $250, with maximum contributions of $1,000 per person or business entity.
Chronister will face a familiar foe. Democrat Gary Pruitt has filed to run and it will be the second time the two face each other at the ballot box. Chronister dispensed with Pruitt in 2018 with nearly 55% of the vote, and again in 2020 in addition to a no-party candidate, Ron McMullen.
Chronister has not yet filed any finance reports, but his political committee, Friends of Chad Chronister, has raised more than $2.25 million since early 2019. The PC has more than $1.1 million available as of the end of December.
To further put his fundraising might into perspective, Chronister raised more than a half million dollars for his official 2020 re-election campaign and more than $800,000 for his first election in 2018. That brought his spending capacity in both cycles to well over $1 million.
There is no reason to believe Chronister’s fundraising this cycle will be any less prolific. His longtime political advisor, Anthony Pedicini, told Florida Politics last year that the Hillsborough Sheriff once raised $1 million in just one night.
Chronister remains Hillsborough County’s only Republican constitutional officer. The other four constitutional officers — Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections and Tax Collector — are all Democrats. The GOP will be looking to change that this cycle after what turned out to be a red wave in Hillsborough County in the 2022 Midterms, even if the expected red wave nationally fizzled.
Throughout his tenure, Chronister has notched a number of accomplishments. He played a crucial role in the pandemic’s early days serving on the now-defunct Emergency Policy Group, which was tasked with setting pandemic policy.
While he mostly stuck to the law enforcement perspective on how to enforce policy proposals, he put duty before the politicization of COVID-19. Chronister directed deputies to arrest Brandon pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for continuing to hold crowded in-person services at The River at Tampa Bay church in violation of the county’s then stay-at-home order.
That same year, he also directed the high-profile firing of a 21-year Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) veteran. Chronister not only fired the deputy for pointing a gun at a suspect’s head, but he also had him arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Chronister has led a series of reforms within the agency including diversion programs, enhanced mental health response, more community policing and engagement, and increased transparency.
He’s directed resources toward combating human trafficking, a problem Chronister notes is particularly pervasive in Tampa, the county’s largest city.
Chronister also launched a heroin task force as part of the department’s response to the opioid epidemic. The group works with homicide detectives and looks into whether or not a dealer, provided it can be proven they provided the drug, can be charged in relation to an overdose death.
Chronister also mandated 40 additional hours of officer mental health training, including on PTSD and drug-induced mental health issues, so officers can better differentiate between a combative suspect and one who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
He also implemented a collaboration between deputies and social workers to connect offenders with services to help get them on their feet, clean and sober, and away from crime.
Chronister has served the HCSO for 31 years. As Sheriff, he remains committed to community policing, according to his campaign announcement, and to furthering a culture of diversity and inclusion — a statement that deviates largely from his political party, which has taken efforts to reduce diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Chronister has earned a number of accolades for his service, including the University of South Florida President’s Fellow Medallion; the 2023 Housing and Education Alliance HEART for the Homeless Award; the 2023 NAACP Walter Moses Burton Unsung Hero Award; the inaugural 2023 Sheriff’s Hispanic Advisory Council Spirit of Community Award; recognition as the 2022 Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay Great Futures honoree; the Boy Scouts of America’s 2022 Distinguished Citizen Award; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Memorial Commemoration Committee’s 2020 Robert W. Saunders Award for Distinguished Community Service in the furtherance of Human Rights; and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay’s 2020 Hispanic Prestige Award.
Chronister was ranked No. 3 on Florida Politics’ 2023 list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.
Chronister also co-chairs the Regional Domestic Security Task Force for Region IV Tampa Bay, and is a Council member of the Florida Attorney General’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking and Chairman of the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee; Vice Chairman of the Hillsborough County Public Safety Coordinating Council; Vice Chairman of the Hillsborough County Public Schools Citizen Oversight Committee; and a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee to the Florida Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council.