FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony has been front and center ever since he was appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. That happened on Jan. 11, 2019, after DeSantis suspended Sheriff Scott Israel because of the police response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Now, having vanquished Israel, a fellow Democrat, in a nasty primary race, Tony is running a low-key campaign against Republican candidate H. Wayne Clark and independent Charles E. Whatley in the Nov. 3 general election.
The day we caught up with him, Tony was in command, not campaign, mode. We asked him, “Are you ready with your campaign?”
“I am focused on this agency and making sure that we do things that are important right now. I don’t think we have to jump into the immediate transition into the general (election),” Tony said.
Clark, a lawyer from Plantation, believes he doesn’t need to be a cop to run BSO. He said he’ll draw on his experience in law, business and the military.
“I don’t want to make this a smear campaign. I want it to be a positive campaign about my platform,” Clark said.
He also doesn’t mince words that he’s the underdog in this race.
“The world loves an underdog, right? Broward County loves an underdog,” he said.
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And, he doesn’t hold back in his view of his opponent.
“Well, first and foremost, I don’t know if Gregory Tony is qualified to be a law enforcement officer. I think, you look at what’s come out in that primary race against him and certainly the questions the Governor should have asked as well as FDLE,” Clark said.
Years ago, when Tony applied to work with the Coral Springs Police Department, he did not reveal that he shot and killed a man when he was 14 years old. Tony was found not guilty.
“There was no obligation for me to disclose obligation for me to disclose a childhood trauma where I didn’t commit a crime,” Tony said during an appearance on Local 10′s “This Week In South Florida.”
In predominantly Democratic Broward County, winning the primary is usually tantamount to winning the election.
Broward has about three times as many Democrats as Republicans, plus a growing army of Independents.
“This is not about being a Republican or Democrat. Safety is non-partisan. It’s about doing the right thing for the community and making sure everyone in the community is treated equally and fairly,” Clark said.
Clark said safety Is non-partisan, but the facts are that Broward County has a majority of registered Democratic voters.
What’s interesting is that three former Democratic candidates have crossed party lines and are now endorsing Clark is his November race for sheriff against the incumbent.
We’ll see what happens at the polls Nov. 3.