JAXBIZ splits Jacksonville Sheriff endorsement

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A political committee associated with the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce couldn’t pick just one of the five candidates running for Sheriff in next month’s Special Election.

So instead, the JAXBIZ committee endorsed two Friday, backing Democrat Lakesha Burton and Republican T.K. Waters in a rare co-endorsement.

“T.K. and Lakesha have both built a wide range of support in the community — including among the Chamber’s 3,000 members,” JAXBIZ Board Chair Abel Harding said.

“While our board was unable to come to an agreement on a single candidate, the decision to issue a co-endorsement was intended to reflect the strong feelings that these are by far the two best candidates and to set them apart from others in the race,” Harding added.

The JAXBIZ media release added that both presented “detailed plans on how they would build trust and meaningful relationships between officers and the community. Both expressed a desire to lead change in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office from the front and work to reduce violent crime, including an emphasis on community policing strategies.”

The Chamber committee’s boost for Burton and Waters comes at a pivotal time ahead of the Aug. 23 Primary, which sees Waters, Burton and three other candidates on the same ballot. The top two finishers regardless of party identification will move on to a November General Election.

In theory, JAXBIZ may have another decision to make down the road.

Waters, the sole Republican in the field, has been endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. He is also the strongest fundraiser. As of the most recent fundraising reports, he has more than $378,000 in his campaign account, and more than $815,000 in his registered political committee, A Safer Jacksonville for All.

Burton has roughly $100,000 on hand in her campaign account, while her political committee Make Every Voice Count has roughly $725,000 on hand.

The three other Democrats in the race, Wayne ClarkTony Cummings and Ken Jefferson, are cash strapped. Jefferson has roughly $4,000 cash on hand, Clark has less than $3,000, and Cummings has less than $1,000 to spend during the campaign’s stretch run.

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