Rep. Val Demings blasted the Orange County Democratic candidate for sheriff, Darryl Sheppard, Thursday on social media because he refused to remove her photo from his campaign literature.
The Facebook post states Demings’ campaign office reached out to Sheppard twice with a request that he stop using her image.
"My campaign reached out to him for the second time and respectfully asked him not to use my image to infer my support for his campaign," the congresswoman wrote.
Sheppard, already dropped from the Orange County Democratic candidate slate, was arrested 13 times but never convicted.
He also faces a lawsuit calling for his removal from the Orange County election ballot.
In an exclusive interview with News 6, Sheppard called the lawsuit a desperate attempt to take him out of the equation.
“I think the campaigns are threatened given the issues we have today in law enforcement," Sheppard said. “I wasn’t surprised.”
Sheppard is convinced the plaintiff, Said Lutfi, supports outgoing Orlando police Chief John Mina and is acting on his behalf.
“They’re very concerned about me being on the ballot, if it were me or any other candidate I would run on my merits," Sheppard said, adding he feels confident about the outcome.
“I think the voters are resonating with my message," he said. “I think they understand that there’s significant need for change.”
Demings, wife of Orange County Mayor-elect Jerry Demings, the outgoing sheriff, made it clear she is not supporting a candidate in the race but went out of her way to dismiss Sheppard as a viable candidate.
“I would not endorse Darryl Sheppard for 'Dog Catcher' of Orange County for fear the canines would lodge complaints," she wrote. “He is TOTALLY unfit for the position he seeks, without even mentioning his criminal record. Perhaps he should learn how to OBEY the law before he TRIES to enforce the law.”
Sheppard is listed as Democrat on the official ballot.
Wes Hodge, chairman of the Orange County Democratic party, said Sheppard presents a risk the party doesn’t want.
“Congresswoman Val Demings and Mayor-elect Jerry Demings have both made it crystal clear that Sheppard is not the right person to be the head law enforcement officer in Orange County," Hodge said. "I think Orange County Democrats should seriously take that into consideration when choosing a candidate for sheriff. “
Sheppard faces Mina and former Florida Highway Patrol Chief Joe Lopez. Both are listed without political party affiliation.
The three candidates have agreed to a final debate on Oct. 30. The debate will air on News 6
It will be broadcast live on WKMG at 7 p.m.