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Add former Hernando sheriff's official to those angling to replace Nugent

BROOKSVILLE — Gov. Charlie Crist will have another local lawman to consider as he selects a successor for Hernando County Sheriff and Rep.-elect Rich Nugent.

James "Eddie" McConnell, who worked at the Hernando Sheriff's Office for more than two decades and made unsuccessful bids for sheriff in 2000 and 2004, said Monday that he had mailed his application to the Governor's Office with hopes of filling the remainder of Nugent's term.

McConnell, 57, is a lieutenant for the Groveland Police Department. A native of Brooksville, he said people in the community had asked him to submit his name for appointment after Nugent chose to run for the 5th District seat being vacated by Brooksville Republican Ginny Brown-Waite.

"I said, 'Sure' and kept my word," McConnell said.

Nugent, a Republican, won the District 5 seat last week. His sheriff's term ends in 2012, and his resignation is effective Dec. 31. He has recommended that Crist appoint sheriff's operations chief Michael Maurer to finish his term. Maurer, 47, has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1988.

Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee, a 42-year-old former police officer and FBI agent, also has applied for the post.

A Crist spokesman said Monday that the office has received applications from Barbee and Maurer. Officials have not provided a timetable for Crist's selection process.

"I'm the only candidate of the three of us that put myself out there to the public in an election situation," McConnell said. "My commitment to the office is very clear through that."

He added that if he is not chosen by Crist, he will consider running for the position in 2012.

McConnell worked for the Sheriff's Office from 1978 to 2000. Before the 2000 election, then-Sheriff Tom Mylander moved him from a high-profile job as head of community services to the task of overseeing purchasing, supplies and fleet management. McConnell accused the sheriff of trying to hinder his election bid against Nugent, Mylander's protege.

The next January, after losing to Nugent by 3 percentage points, McConnell left, saying he did not want to hinder Nugent's administration and split loyalties.

McConnell was hired as a detective with the Crystal River Police Department. He joined the Brooksville Police Department in 2002 and was working as a detective when he ran for sheriff in 2004.

He joined the Groveland department two years later, earning the rank of captain. The department reorganized and eliminated the position, and McConnell took the rank of lieutenant.

A Hernando High graduate, McConnell has taken some coursework toward a bachelor's degree at Saint Leo University and Kaplan University. He is divorced with four grown children.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

Add former Hernando sheriff's official to those angling to replace Nugent 11/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 8, 2010 10:22pm]
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