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Forty sheriffs, five of them Democrats, endorse Scott

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign announced endorsements Tuesday from 40 sheriffs, including four from Tampa Bay.

The list included five Democratic sheriffs: Susan Benton of Highlands, Jeff Hardy of Putnam, Gordon Smith of Bradford, Steve Whidden of Hendry and Stuart Whiddon of Glades.

Those are small, conservative counties where sheriffs have a lot of clout. Voter turnout percentages in off-year elections typically are higher in small counties. (Sheriffs are not up for election this year. They run for four-year terms on the same cycle as presidential elections).

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger endorsed Scott. Remember him? Eslinger was one of the four names on Scott's supposed short list of possible picks for lieutenant governor last fall, before he chose former Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

"Sheriffs for Scott" also includes Hillsborough's David Gee, Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas, Chris Nocco of Pasco and Al Nienhuis of Hernando. Nocco was appointed by Scott in 2011. Nienhuis was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010.

In a statement released by Scott's campaign, Gualtieri said: "We need a strong and decisive governor to make the hard decisions that ensure further crime reductions in a cost efficient manner, and Rick Scott is the only candidate who will do that."