Thornton far ahead in sheriff’s race fundraising


Campaign contributions aren’t always an accurate barometer for measuring community support, but the latest financial reports submitted by the three candidates running for sheriff in the Republican primary are telling.

And here’s what they’re saying:

  • Sheriff’s Captain Milo Thornton is the apparent frontrunner, having raised twice as much money as the other two candidates combined.
  • Sheriff Eric Flowers, who currently sits third in the fundraising derby behind both Thornton and Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry, seems to be struggling in his quest for a second term.

As of the candidates’ April 10 filing, Thornton’s campaign had raised a whopping $306,900, which is considerably more than the $234,445 Flowers spent during his COVID-impacted race in 2020.

In addition, Thornton has received $8,947 in in-kind contributions.

Add to that $80,000 in donations to a “Friends of Milo Thornton” political action committee, and Thornton has a war chest of nearly $400,000 to fund his bid to unseat his boss.

“I’m incredibly grateful for our community and its willingness to support this campaign,” Thornton said after raising another $32,775 during the first quarter of 2024, a full $28,930 of that in monetary contributions.

“Everywhere I go, both small and large donors are willing to invest in a strong, safe and secure Indian River County, with high standards of ethics and professionalism,” he added.

“That’s exactly what I’m campaigning for, and it is really resonating with the people of our county.”

Thornton’s campaign has received 540 monetary contributions, compared to Touchberry’s 404 and Flowers’ 194.

Flowers, whose credibility was damaged after Vero Beach 32963 publicly exposed his extramarital affair in February 2022, has raised only $122,260 in monetary contributions – which might explain why he’s reusing campaign signs from his 2020 campaign.

He took in $33,610 during the first quarter of this year.

The sheriff did not respond to an email seeking comment on the status of his campaign.

Touchberry, meanwhile, expressed gratitude and excitement about his campaign, having raised more than $39,056 in monetary contributions for a total of more than $40,000 in support during the first quarter of the year.

That haul, which came from 136 individual contributors, boosted his monetary total to $131,309. He also has received $3,736 in in-kind contributions.

Among Touchberry’s notable first-quarter donors were: School Board member Gene Posca, Public Defender Diamond Litty, former sheriff Tim Dobeck, former State House candidate Karen Hiltz, and former police chiefs Jim Gabbard (Vero Beach), Michelle Morris (Sebastian) and Larry Tippins (Fellsmere).

“The community tells me they want a true, experienced leader who is not part of the Sheriff’s Office culture,” said Touchberry, who retired from the Vero Beach Police Department before being tapped for the top law enforcement post in Fellsmere.

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