GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Michelle Cook has defeated suspended Darryl Daniels in the Republican primary for sheriff of Clay County.
Cook, a Clay County resident who worked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years and most recently was chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department, got 37% of the vote in a six-way race. Daniels got 29%.
“I want to thank God for this opportunity for getting us to the finish line,” Cook told supporters. “Thank you all for this wonderful opportunity ... and I promise I’ll give you a sheriff you can be proud of.”
Cook’s name will be the only one on the November ballot, since Francis Bourrie, also a registered Republican, qualified as a write-in candidate.
Cook joined The Morning Show on Wednesday to discuss her Primary victory (press play below to watch):
The race for Clay County sheriff had always promised lots of possibilities with five challengers lining up to unseat incumbent Daniels. Then, more than half-way through early voting and five days before the primary, the sheriff was arrested after a year-long investigation of criminal misconduct resulting from an extramarital affair. A day later, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Daniels.
Daniels did not appear before news camera after his defeat but his campaign released a defiant statement:
DeSantis named a senior FDLE special agent as interim sheriff, who will run the department for the rest of the year. Cook will take office on Jan. 1.
Cook grew up in Green Cove Springs and graduated from Clay High. She has a master’s degree in criminology from the University of North Florida.
According to Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless, it’s estimated that half of the county’s primary voters had already cast their ballots either by mail-in ballot or early voting by Aug. 13 — the night of Daniels’ arrest.
Chambless said the county has seen more interest in this primary compared to those in years past. Shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m., turnout was nearing 33%.
“There’s a lot of drama,” Clay County voter Deirdre Martin said Tuesday. “I didn’t get to vote for the sheriff because I was NPA — no party affiliation. I did some research for (my husband) and he’s a registered Republican. I told him who he might want to vote for.”