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Former St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar jumps into Senate GOP race against Tom Leek

Daytona Beach News-Journal
Former St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar has filed as a candidate for Florida Senate District 7,  a seat that covers all of Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties, as well as a part of northern Volusia County.

David Shoar, who served 16 years as St. Johns County sheriff, has entered the race for Florida Senate District 7, adding an element of intrigue to a race also involving powerful state Rep. Tom Leek of Ormond Beach.

As a Republican elected four previous times in St. Johns, which comprises more than half of District 7 voters, Shoar also has been a prominent advocate for studying the legalization of psychedelic drugs as mental-health treatment. While the legalization of marijuana will be on the November ballot, Shoar, Leek and Gerry James, another Republican from St. Johns County, will be vying for votes on the Aug. 20 primary ballot.

The seat has been held since 2015 by Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, who has reached his limit of two four-year terms.

Leek is in a similar boat, having reached his limit of four two-year terms in the House, where he served the past two years as appropriations chair, helping to shape the 2023-24 and 2024-25 budgets. Leek, an attorney, has lined up a number of endorsements, including support from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, incoming Senate President Ben Albritton, R-Barstow, outgoing House Speaker Paul Renner, Congressmen Michael Waltz and Cory Mills and all four sheriffs in the counties District 7 includes: St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and part of Volusia.

Tom Leek

Leek, though, has been sparring with powerful Orlando attorney John Morgan and has also faced attacks from a political committee, The Truth Matters, whose chairperson is Erika Alba, an attorney with the Ponte Vedra Beach law firm Woolsey Morcom. by that firm to be its director of investigations in 2023, but in an interview with , he denied knowledge of the source of negative ads against Leek.

The Truth Matters started a website it , which targets Leek for his growing net worth while working as chief legal officer for Daytona Beach insurance brokerage Foundation Risk Partners.

In response, Leek has run an ad attacking "Democrat lovin' liberal personal injury billboard lawyers," which features the faces of Alba and Woolsey Morcom partner Joshua Woolsey.

Asked about Shoar's entry into the Senate race, Leek sent a statement: "David Shoar is employed by the very billboard personal injury law firm who is behind The Truth Matters political committee that has leveled more than $2 million in attack ads against me in recent weeks. His dubious claim he is unaware that these Democrat-funded attacks are emanating from his law firm would make him the only person in St. Johns County unaware of it. If the truth mattered, David Shoar would admit heֱs doing the liberal Democrats' bidding.ֱ

In a brief interview Monday, Shoar said he entered the race after "sitting on the sidelines" for three years.

"I spent my whole life in the arena, and I don't mind getting back into the arena," he said.

Asked about Leek's advantages, including support from many of the party's power brokers and access to some $4 million between his campaign contributions and political committees, Shoar responded: "I think we can beat him."

Of endorsements, Shoar said if someone asks for his endorsement, he tells them: "You might get my friends, but you're not going to get my enemies."

He said Leek is "an establishment Republican."

Shoar, whose tenure ended in 2021, is also a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, having served in the Florida Army National Guard.

Shoar also faced scrutiny last December when he was also stopped by St. Augustine police, who said in a report he failed to stop at a red light, according to the Florida Times-Union. The officer observed pieces of marijuana on the vehicle's center console while collecting Shoar's driver information.

The officer noted in the report that there was a "very strong odor" of marijuana coming from the vehicle, but Shoar showed him a medicinal marijuana card. No arrest was made. Shoar was given a verbal warning about the traffic violation and the use of marijuana in the car, the Times-Union reported.