Bernie DeCastro is the former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Florida and a former nominee of that party for the U.S. Senate. He is now a candidate for Sheriff in his home of Marion County and he has a chance to win thanks to some luck, bad decisions by opponents, and election law quirks.
For the second time this election season, a candidate has been forced from the race over sexual misconduct. This time it is the frontrunner for the Marion County Sheriffs job, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the departure of the mainstream candidate has opened the door for a less conventional candidate.
In 1976, Bernie DeCastro got life for armed robbery. After finding God he was paroled in 1984. For the last 25 years, DeCastro has run a halfway house, working to keep other offenders from going back to prison. “I’m a carpenter” says one inmate as De Castro responds “We’ll be able to find you something”. Now he is running for the Sheriff of Marion County Florida, promising to do things differently if elected. “We are going to work with the men in the county jail who have not been convicted who are there for low-level, non-violent mostly substance abuse crimes is which is primarily what we have here and begin to work with them using alternative sanctions instead of just leaving them to rot in a county jail for six months so” says De Castro. As a former felon, DeCastro didn’t have a snowball’s chance against the established candidates. But then a strange thing happened. Undersheriff Dan Kuhn was forced from the race when his mistress told of sex on duty. The loser in the GOP primary has been named to take his place, but his name isn’t on the ballot.
As De Castro campaigned on the streets of Ocala he told one potential voter “I’m a strong supporter of the Constitution. I carry it with me everywhere I go”.
DeCastro has raised about a tenth of what his GOP opponent has raised, so victory seems unlikely–but possible.