JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams on Thursday announced his sudden retirement amid controversy about a recent move from Duval to Nassau County. Meantime, six people had previously announced their intentions to run for sheriff in spring 2023 during the general election, which follows the special elections later this year.
The Jacksonville City Council plans to hold a meeting to set a date in August for a special election to fill Williams’ unexpired term. That’s followed by a general election runoff in November — and before this happens, Gov. Ron DeSantis will appoint an interim sheriff who will serve for a least a few months.
Candidates planning to run in the general election now have a lot less time to campaign and raise money. Williams had about a year left on his term, but his last day is now June 10.
“Make no mistake this is a major curveball,” said News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney. “You have six major candidates. They were looking until next March, and instead of next March, it’s likely going to be August, and that means a sprint.”
As Chris Hand, a government law attorney explains, it’s just the first round.
“This will fill a term through June 30th. They’ll have to do it all over again next March and May for a full 4-year term,” Hand said.
As a result, this could make the campaigning process a lot more expensive.
We turned to data from the Duval County Supervisor of Elections to crunch the latest campaign contribution numbers among the candidates. According to the data:
- Republican T.K Waters has the largest sum, with $1,099,000
- Democrat Lakesha Burton is not far behind, with $1,067,000
- Republican Mathew Nemeth has raised $97,0000
- Democrat Ken Jefferson has raised $46,000
- Democrat Wayne Clark has raised $32,000
- Democrat Tony Cummings has raised $352
“I do think you’re going to see those candidates step it up in fundraising,” Mullaney said. “It is going to be more expensive, and it’s going to be quite a year ahead. You literally could see three different sheriffs within a 12 month period.”
Mullaney points out, whoever the DeSantis picks to serve as interim sheriff, will be significant.
“If the governor appoints one of the leading Republican candidates, such as T.K. Waters, it would give that candidate the benefit of incumbency,” he said.
Analysts say, in the end, there are a lot of factors that will come into play during the race.
Hand believes DeSantis’ pick could shake out who runs in the special election.
“The No. 1 challenge almost any candidate has is name identification, making sure the voters know that you are a candidate for office,” Hand said.
The City Council could vote on a date for the special election on Monday.