South Florida is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's clear that the race for who will be the Broward County Sheriff in late 2020 is up and running.
For the second time in a handful of days, reports surfaced online that are questioning how Sheriff Gregory Tony has handled himself.
The primary in the Broward sheriff’s race is four months away. In total there are 10 candidates, but the political experts say it really boils down to two: former Sheriff Scott Israel and the current one — Gregory Tony.
On Tuesday morning Tony was dealing with the toughest part of any law enforcement commander's job — announcing the death of one of his employees. But behind the scenes across Broward, the political wheels are turning.
“It’s in full swing, and you have two highly controversial figures now running for this office," NBC 6 political analyst Carlos Curbelo said.
Records show Israel has raised over $130,000 in the move to unseat Tony, who’s raised over $150,000.
Pictures have now surfaced online of Tony in a bathing suit at what appears to be a party organized by a group that says it throws erotic themed events. At the beginning of the week, Tony was answering questions about the day he shot and killed a man when he was just 14.
“I haven’t gone out with the effort to see what I can find in someone’s background 27 years ago,” Tony told NBC 6 on Sunday.
Tony says he was defending himself from a man who entered his home in a tough area of Philadelphia with a gun. He says he never revealed it on any law enforcement application because he wasn’t arrested.
“There’s no arrest records,” Tony said.
“It’s not like he’s my sheriff. I didn’t even know the guy. It’s not like he was a political ally of mine," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said about the situation.
DeSantis says the shooting never came up before he removed Israel and replaced him with Tony.
“Because it was self-defense, I don’t think it would have made a difference, but it did not come up in the background check because he had never been charged,” DeSantis said.
Tony thinks it's all about below the belt politics.
“Yea it is. There is no way to dance around this. I try not to play politics. I know that sounds absurd on a campaign, but I have never looked at what I can do to slander someone’s character or integrity. I’ve based everything I’ve done on my achievements and track record,” Tony said.
Curbelo says Tony is getting a rude awakening to the way the political world works.
“It's a tough lesson for anyone who gets involved in politics. Opposition research is a big thing in politics. People will be relentless about searching through your past — searching through your records,” Curbelo said.
There is no indication Israel had anything to do with the recent reports about Tony. The police union who had a vote showing no confidence in him also had no comment about them.
Curbelo says time will tell what Broward voters think at a time many are out of work and concerned for their health.