CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Following last Thursday’s acquittal of former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels we’re looking into whether he has a viable path to re-enter politics. This comes after Daniels released a statement following his acquittal and statement that he is the victim of a political witch hunt.
Darryl Daniels still retains political backing in Clay County.
When he ran against Michelle Cook following the affair scandal and criminal charges being filed days before the election -- the race still remained close and he lost with 29% to Cook’s 37%. Now that he’s been acquitted the question is, can he run again?
Right after all charges were dropped against Darryl Daniels he put out a statement with some very overt hints he may re-enter politics… “The abuse and overreach that I have had to endure over the past three years is an example of what happens when sectors of our government go unchecked.”
“Similar to what we are seeing happen to former President Donald Trump and now with the Biden Administration working to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to harass and abuse Americans across the country”
But Daniels has taken a political hit with voters and institutional support in the county. Following the scandal going public in 2019 Daniels had to resign from the board of a charter school in Clay County and the Orange Park Medical Center board.
News4JAX Political Analyst Rick Mullaney says it’s obvious Daniels is holding on to core support from voters but he may struggle in the conservative county.
“In county races both in Clay County and Nassau County these tend to be very highly contested,” Mullaney said. “If you lose 5-10%, it truly can be the margin of difference in being successful and not. That’s why I’m suggesting -- this can be a very significant challenge for him for the future. Politically it’s a challenge.”
Mullaney adds Daniels trying to draw parallels between himself and former president Trump may not be easy. Much of the GOP defense of Trump surrounds the FBI going into Mar-a-Lago and the January 6th hearings -- both of which are political lightning rods. However, Daniels scandal involves an affair with all the scandalous details playing out in public.
“He invokes the name of Donald trump in an attempt to get support for himself but the two circumstances are very different,” Mullaney said. “All the facts have not come out yet on the search of the former president’s home. There hasn’t been a decision yet on charging him. But we do know what happened here with the former sheriff. The 6 year affair with a former corrections officer.”
As to when he can apply to run if he wants to -- the Clay Supervisor of Elections says the next Clay sheriff race would likely be in August of 2024 where he would likely have to run against Michelle Cook who’s now an incumbent and likely harder to beat.
News4JAX reached out to the head of the Clay County GOP who said she has no comment on this issue.