Jerry Demings says transition to mayor's office will begin day after primary

Orange county sheriff: 'We can win this outright'

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings is confident he will hit a political walk-off home run and become the county’s mayor-elect after Tuesday’s primary.

The veteran sheriff told News 6 on Monday that the polling he has reviewed suggests he will defeat former Commissioner Pete Clarke and businessman Rob Panepinto by a wide margin.

“I’ve done my own personal polling,” Demings said. “We can win this race outright, we can get the 50 percent plus one and that’s the good news I share (with my supporters); we have run a very positive campaign.”

Demings said if he wins, he will start assembling a transition team Wednesday and announce his official staff next week.

Of course, predictions are one thing and winning is another. Both Clarke and Panepinto have argued the
voters, especially those listed as non-party affiliated, could make the difference and force a November showdown.

“We think we have a lot of momentum," Panepinto told News 6. “We’ll find out in less than 24 hours.”

Clarke, who resigned as District 3 county commissioner to run for mayor, has strong support in his district and doesn’t buy Demings’ prediction.

“If I didn’t think I’d be standing on Aug. 28, I wouldn’t have resigned my commission seat,” he said.

Panepinto is convinced the voters who come to the polls Tuesday could give his campaign the numbers needed to force a November runoff, something he feels is needed to review important issues.

“The good thing about democracy is people get to vote,” he said. “From a community standpoint, forget about who wins or loses, I just don’t think (eliminating  a November vote) is healthy for the community.”

As the vote draws near, Demings said he will keep focused on the job at hand.

“I remain focused on being the sheriff for these remaining months and keeping our community safe,” Demings said.

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