Earnell Lucas, a Major League Baseball security official and a former Milwaukee police officer, won Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for Milwaukee County sheriff. Lucas urged voters to make a clean break from the era of former Sheriff David Clarke.
Earnell Lucas, a Major League Baseball security official, won Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for Milwaukee County sheriff and is a sure bet to be hired by voters in November to a four-year term in the office, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lucas defeated Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt by a solid margin Tuesday after a race featuring surrogate groups that pumped out messages and spent money on behalf of both campaigns. Lucas received 57 percent of the vote. Robert Ostrowski, a deputy sheriff for 16 years, failed to gain traction against his better-known and better-funded competitors in the three-way partisan primary. The winner of the primary likely will become the next sheriff because no Republican is on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election. Deputy James Villwock, a Republican, is planning a write-in campaign to challenge Lucas.
Schmidt could not shed the mantle of his close association with former Sheriff David Clarke and his role as the department’s second in command since 2010. Lucas, a 25-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department, gained endorsements from most other Democratic Party leaders in the county. Lucas urged voters to make a clean break from the Clarke era. Schmidt is a 32-year veteran of the agency and his campaign was supported by $300,000 worth of online advertising and broadcast commercials paid for by Leadership MKE, an independent political expenditure committee bankrolled by County Executive Chris Abele. Schmidt, Lucas and Ostrowski sparred over which of them would move the department the greatest distance from Clarke’s legacy of mistreatment of jail inmates, inadequate staff and budget deficits. Lucas’ central theme was “restoring integrity to the Sheriff’s Office” post-Clarke. He has pledged to return deputies to doing more police work, such as drug enforcement and stopping human trafficking, and to ensure the jail is a secure and humane facility.