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Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony declares victory over Scott Israel in Democratic primary

Ousted sheriff narrowly loses bid to reclaim old job
Gregory Tony and Scott Israel, Democratic candidates for Broward County sheriff
Posted at 9:48 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 23:56:23-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The former Broward County sheriff's final bid to get his job back appears to have failed.

Scott Israel, who was ousted from his position last year, narrowly lost to current Sheriff Gregory Tony in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel shortly after taking office in 2019, citing "neglect of duty and incompetence" during two mass shootings in Broward County -- at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in January 2017 and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018.

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Israel unsuccessfully appealed to the Florida Senate to get his job back. When that failed, he decided to run for re-election.

Tony was appointed by DeSantis to lead the Broward Sheriff's Office after Israel's suspension.

"I am deeply honored that Democratic voters have chosen me to lead the Broward Sheriff's Office into a brighter, safer future," Tony said in a prepared statement. "We've come a long way in the last 18 months, but there is still much work to be done. Together, we're reforming the sheriff's office, promoting good deputies and keeping our communities safer by embracing police reform. As your sheriff, I will work tirelessly to make this department a model for how a public safety agency can be effective, transparent and accountable to our community. Let's keep moving forward."

With 99% of precincts reporting, Tony was leading Israel by more than 4,000 votes.

Israel has yet to concede.

Scott Israel leaves news conference after being suspended in 2019
Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, center, leaves a news conference surrounded by supporters Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him over his handling of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Tony has been criticized for failing to disclose that he fatally shot an 18-year-old man in Philadelphia when he was 14 years old. Tony has said he did so in self-defense and maintains he was not required to disclose the 1993 incident when applying for his career in law enforcement.

The Florida Senate voted last October to uphold DeSantis' decision to suspend Israel, going against a special master's recommendation to reinstate him.

Special Master Dudley Goodlette, a Republican and former state lawmaker, wrote in his 34-page report that DeSantis failed to present any evidence to support the Republican governor's position.

Israel has said he was a political scapegoat.

Tony is heavily favored to defeat the Republican challenger and an independent candidate in the November election.