With runoff candidates decided, what’s next in the race for Jacksonville sheriff?

In a little more than two months, Duval County voters will head back to the polls for the November election -- which now includes a runoff in the special election for the next Jacksonville sheriff.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a little more than two months, Duval County voters will head back to the polls for the November election -- which now includes a runoff in the special election for the next Jacksonville sheriff.

That sheriff will serve only a few months before the March 2023 municipal election, when voters will choose the person who will serve in the role for the next four years.

The special election is just to fill the remainder of former Sheriff Mike Williams’ term after he retired early amid controversy over his residency following his move out of the county.

RELATED: Race for Jacksonville sheriff heads to November general election

On Tuesday, Republican T.K. Waters walked away with the most votes, but it was enough (50%, plus one vote) to be declared the winner. That sent him and second-place finisher Lakesha Burton, a Democrat, into a runoff.

Jacksonville Sheriff - Special Election

If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two advance to a second election in November.

Candidate

Votes

%

Lakesha Burton(D)
00%
Wayne Clark(D)
00%
Tony Cummings(D)
00%
Ken Jefferson(D)
00%
T.K. Waters(R)
00%

With four Democrats running, the vote was split amongst them with Burton taking the largest chunk of votes by far. Now that the race is down to one Republican and one Democrat, the picture shifts.

Adding up all the vote for Democratic candidates, Burton would beat out Waters 98,452 to 86,298. But News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney said it’s not that simple.

“This is going to be a very competitive race. You could easily see T.K. Waters winning this. You could easily see Lakesha Burton winning this. I wouldn’t put too much stock in the results from this primary,” Mullaney said. “It is a whole new ballgame come November. Remember this: In the last cycles that we’ve seen in statewide elections, turnout is up dramatically on the Democratic side. That was true in 2018. That was true in 2020. And now in 2022, we’ll have to see what it is.”

The other factor is that the other three candidates might not be ready to throw their support behind one of the remaining candidates because the upcoming March election affords them another opportunity to keep their own name in the running.

WATCH: SHERIFF’S DEBATE LIVE AND UNCUT

News4JAX reached out to the three candidates who are out of the running in the special election now to see if they are planning to run again in the regularly scheduled sheriff’s election in March and if they are going to throw their support behind Waters or Burton in the November runoff in the meantime.

Democrat Wayne Clark said: “I am planning to consider all options, and what is in the best interest of the community.”

Democrat Ken Jefferson, who finished third with 14% of the vote, is waiting as well but offered some interesting insight, saying he’s not focused on party affiliation.

“I’m not opposed to meeting with both candidates who are in the runoff. Talk to them and see what their vision is, what their goal is, and what they plan to do and how they plan to implement these things, and then we will make a decision from there if we decide to go forward with anything,” Jefferson said. “I am a registered Democrat, but in a sheriff’s race, party should not matter at all.”

As a note, a political committee tied to Burton ran negative ads against Jefferson during the race, so it could be difficult for him to end up supporting her.

News4JAX reached out to Tony Cummings, but we have not heard back yet.

We also reached out to Waters and Burton on what’s next for their campaigns.

Burton’s campaign said they will be increasing their coalition by welcoming the support of those no longer in the race and especially their supporters

We have not heard back yet from Waters.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.