In Alabama’s Republican primary Tuesday night, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin was beaten handily by his opponent, losing by a nearly 2-1 margin.
AL.com reported that the Etowah County probate office had counted 12,196 votes for Jonathon Horton — the police chief of Rainbow City — and just 6,742 votes for Entrekin, with 34 of 35 ballot boxes counted. Entrekin conceded to Horton at approximately 8 PM Tuesday night. Entrekin was first appointed to the job of Etowah County Sheriff in 2007, and won all of his subsequent re-election campaigns until Tuesday night.
“I thank God and my wife and I believe that this is a credit to running a clean, transparent campaign,” Horton told AL.com after his victory was apparent.
Entrekin was the subject of ridicule after reports that he had used approximately $750,000 in county funding meant to go toward feeding inmates in county jail to instead buy a lavish vacation home in Orange Beach, Alabama, in September of 2017. Entrekin spent three years saving up the excess food provision account money and got a $592,000 mortgage from a local bank to finalize the purchase of the beach house.
Thanks to a law Alabama passed after World War II, it’s not illegal for sheriffs to keep leftover money from the food provision fund. Entrekin told AL.com that prisoners weren’t starving, saying a licensed dietitian made sure that all inmates in county lockup were fed adequately.
“As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates,” Entrekin said at the time. “Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”
Nonetheless, the controversy dogged Entrekin for much of the primary. An intense meme war broke out between both sides, with one page supporting Horton referring to Entrekin as the “Million Dollar Sheriff.” A website supporting Entrekin, called “Expose the Snake,” attacked Horton over an alleged domestic violence incident and a 2006 incident in which Horton hit another car while driving under the influence.
There are no Democratic opponents running for Etowah County Sheriff, meaning that Horton has all but secured victory in November, assuming he defeats candidates running write-in campaigns.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.