That high-profile stance put him in the figurative line of fire in December. That’s when his comments about the controversial open carry legislation led to intense criticism from National Rifle Association members.
Gualtieri’s comments, which he said were taken out of context, were posted by a blogger for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Later distributed by Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, the sheriff received a flood of hostile phone calls, emails and comments on social media.
It only helped him with mainstream voters, though, and he’s expected to easily win re-election this year.
Pinellas County Democratic strategist Barry Edwards said the sheriff has “total integrity and passion for the public, the victims, his officers and his inmates.”
Gualtieri was 10th in last year’s poll.
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.