Jeremiah Hawkes, the top civilian in the Pasco Sheriff's Office, is running for a seat on the Pasco County Court bench in 2018.
Hawkes, 40, is the son of Paul Hawkes, a lobbyist and former 1st District Court of Appeal judge. The elder Hawkes resigned from the bench in 2011 as he faced a Judicial Qualifications Commission ethics trial over his role in obtaining state financing for a posh $50 million courthouse dubbed the Taj Mahal for its excessive accoutrements.
"People can ask me about my dad. But I think anybody who sits down and fairly evaluates things and gets to know my dad, they're not going to have a problem with my dad,'' the candidate said Friday. "I'm not my dad, and I'm proud to be his son.''
The younger Hawkes is seeking the Group 7 Pasco County Court seat now held by two-term incumbent Judge Candy VanDercar, who is not seeking re-election. His aspirations to join the bench are no secret, and he previously applied unsuccessfully for gubernatorial appointments to vacant circuit court judgeships.
Hawkes is commander of the management services bureau under Sheriff Chris Nocco and oversees the department's legal, finance and budgeting operations. He joined the department in 2009 under then-Sheriff Bob White as part of a post-election shake-up among the sheriff's top aides that also saw current Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Nocco come to the agency. All three had worked under Marco Rubio during his tenure as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, with Hawkes serving as the House's general counsel.
Hawkes' campaign papers name his wife, Holly, as his treasurer. The couple have two young children and reside in Odessa. Hawkes said he is working on assembling a campaign committee, and "obviously I have the support of the sheriff.'' He said he planned to travel to community events and "reach out to as many folks as I can.''
The candidate filing period for judicial offices ends May 4 of next year. The election is Aug. 28, 2018.