Political strategies

Sheriff’s Candidates Rush to Adjust Special Election Campaign Strategies – Action News Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The governor has yet to weigh in on who he will appoint to serve as acting sheriff to replace Mike Williams, who announced he would retire in a week.

Regardless of who is nominated, the city council has yet to set dates for a special election.

This election will likely take place on the same date as the August primary.

We asked the six candidates who originally planned to run for sheriff next March if they planned to run in a special election in August.

We heard from all four, who all said yes emphatically.

Candidates Ken Jefferson, Lakesha Burton, Mat Nemeth and Wayne Clark have all confirmed they plan to run in the soon-to-be-scheduled special sheriff election.

University of North Florida political scientist Dr. Michael Binder said that with this election likely to be held in August, the candidates have just lost seven months of campaigning.

“It’s a really big deal, especially if you had a strategy in place to prepare after the November election,” Binder said.

Binder said other factors are also at play.

Fewer independent voters typically contest primary elections, as they are not allowed to vote in Florida’s partisan primaries.

“Targeting voters who potentially would have turned out in March, but might not have turned out in August, is tricky and complicated,” Binder said.

In addition, the composition of this year’s primary may be advantageous for Democratic candidates.

“On the Democratic side, the gubernatorial race is hotly contested. Multiple candidates, and you would think that would generate some turnout among Democrats,” Binder said.

Binder said that with the narrowed time window, candidates with strong name recognition and deep pockets are at an advantage.

“So there are opportunities for those who have the money, like a (TK) Waters, like a (Lakesha) Burton, to start spending it and building awareness with regular voters,” Binder said. .

Burton’s campaign told us it was already adjusting.

“In a broad sense, the spring of 2023 would have been mostly spent on paid media campaigns. August 2022 becomes much more – but not completely –— who can get his supporters to vote,” said John Daigle, campaign consultant for Burton.

Clark told us that building name recognition will be a challenge in a shortened time frame.

“The challenge will be to let the public know about my background, my qualifications and why I’m the best candidate for the job,” Clark said.

Jefferson’s campaign said he, too, is reviewing his strategy.

“Our campaign team will remain focused on the task at hand. In preparation for the special election, we will adjust and review our strategy as we continue to move forward,” Tabitha Higgs said in an emailed statement. .

While the winner of the special election will only serve for a maximum of seven months, but more likely only around five if the race is held in November, Binder said securing a victory will likely provide the advantage of winning a full term. of four years. in March.

“You’re seen as the sheriff, and being seen as the sheriff adds a certain respectability, adds an ‘oh, I don’t know if that person can do it’; well, they currently do. So maybe that clears some doubts and builds their support,” Binder said.

City Council will likely formalize the dates for the special elections at its meeting, scheduled for Monday at noon.

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