Chad Chronister backs pro-cop Vern Buchanan as he faces threats from the left and the right
Vern Buchanan.

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The nod comes as a recent poll shows Buchanan trouncing his opponent in the GOP Primary ... by a lot.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is endorsing U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for re-election in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, citing his pro-cop tenure on the Hill.

“There are few members of Congress who have a stronger track-record supporting law enforcement than Vern Buchanan,” Chronister said. “Whether it is sponsoring the Thin Blue Line Act or leading efforts to crack down on gang activity, Vern understands what it takes to keep our communities safe. I appreciate the work he puts in for the people of Hillsborough County and he has my support.”

Buchanan has served in Congress since 2007 and has proven a difficult incumbent to unseat. Buchanan last year fended off a Primary challenge from Martin Hyde, winning a massive 86% of the vote before cruising to re-election over Democrat Jan Schneider, who is again running this cycle.

Buchanan faces Eddie Speir in the GOP Primary, but appears poised to deliver another blowout this year. Buchanan is trouncing Speir by more than 50 percentage points, according to a St. Pete Polls survey.

Still, Buchanan isn’t taking any chances. The wealthiest member of Florida’s congressional delegation who could bankroll more if he needed to, is out-raising Speir 3-1. Buchanan’s campaign reported nearly $1.57 million in cash on hand as of early February. At the same point, Speir had $489,000 on hand, largely thanks to a $500,000 investment into his own campaign. Speir had only brought in about $22,000 from other sources.

“I so appreciate the sheriff’s support and the remarkable work he and his team do to keep our streets safe,” Buchanan said of Chronister’s support. “Sheriff Chronister has been an incredible resource in Congress and I look forward to continuing to partner with him in the years ahead.”

Speir has been in the news in recent weeks and months, but not for good reasons. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported last month that Speir may be violating federal tax law by running his campaign from his nonprofit private Christian school, Inspiration Academy in Bradenton.

The IRS prohibits nonprofits from directly or indirectly participating in a political campaign. Violators could lose their nonprofit status and be on the hook for paying retroactive taxes. Speir responded to the Herald-Tribune that he had done nothing wrong and instead attacked the IRS as “woke” and “weaponized” and accused the paper of carrying “the water of a corrupt politician and his call to action to activate a woke and weaponized IRS.”

Speir also reportedly directed nearly $25,000 raised for his campaign to family members. Both in direct payments and to family-owned businesses, Speir’s campaign in Florida’s 16th Congressional District has pumped more money to loved ones than he has raised in outside contributions, Florida Politics reported last month. The payments included more than $2,900 in travel reimbursements to his wife, Claire, and $9,700 in campaign salary payments to his son, Tal, between Aug. 29 and Dec. 29 last year.

Speir is a conservative activist. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to the New College Board of Trustees as part of his efforts to reimagine the small liberal arts school into a more conservative image, but the Senate, which Republicans control, did not confirm the appointment.

The Primary Election is Aug. 20.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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