Clarke’s national profile has grown with his fervent support of President Donald Trump; he’s a lightning rod personality who fashions himself as the “people’s sheriff” in an ever-present cowboy hat.
The Milwaukee-born Lucas – who spent more than two decades in Milwaukee law enforcement – will challenge four-term Sheriff Clarke on the left in a Democratic primary; despite his generally conservative positions, the Milwaukee County Sheriff runs for office as a Democrat. The Associated Press notes that Clarke may have other positions on his mind, reporting that some conservatives want him to run against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat. He’s not announced his intentions, though (including on whether he is seeking re-election).
Sachin Chheda, a Milwaukee-based political strategist, who is advising Lucas, confirmed to Heavy on March 30 that Lucas will challenge Clarke, although Lucas has not formally announced his candidacy yet. Both men built their careers in the Milwaukee Police Department and are life-long Milwaukeeans. Despite those similarities, the election may highlight a rhetorical contrast between the men, who have very different personas: Lucas is an introspective, understated personality who has worked behind the scenes in management positions, whereas Clarke is controversial, brash and outspoken, and has drawn some recent critics even from the right.
Who’s Earnell Lucas?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lucas Was a Police Captain & Officer For Decades in Milwaukee
Lucas said he had an “extensive career in law enforcement” in Milwaukee in a 2012 YouTube video in which he spoke about his work in baseball and his education in management areas.
According to the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, Lucas spent 25 years at the Milwaukee Police Department, where he “rose to the rank of captain, overseeing District 3 from 1999 to 2002.” He retired at the rank of captain in 2002, to take the position with Major League Baseball.
Lucas also served as the public information spokesperson for the Milwaukee Police Department in the 1990s.
The Democratic primary in the sheriff’s race will be held in August 2018, with a general election in November. However, as Clarke traditionally runs as a Democrat, the real battle should be in the primary itself, not the general.
2. Lucas Runs Security for Major League Baseball & Worked for Commissioner Bud Selig
The Milwaukee County Democratic Party writes that Lucas has “spent the last 15 years with Major League Baseball, starting as the head of then-Commissioner Bud Selig’s security detail.”
Lucas’ LinkedIn profile says his job title is “Vice President Security & Facility Management at Major League Baseball.”
In a 2008 press release announcing Lucas had been named to the position, Major League Baseball wrote that Lucas would be “responsible for establishing and directing all of MLB’s security and facility management policies, procedures and programs.”
MLB wrote that Lucas had been with the organization since 2002 “most recently serving as Senior Director of Crisis Response & Facilities and previously as Executive Protection Supervisor. In both roles, he worked closely with federal, state and local law enforcement officials in the planning and implementation of MLB security measures.”
The press release added: “Among Lucas’ responsibilities will be oversight of all security efforts at baseball’s jewel events and the management of the league-wide Resident Security Agent (RSA) program. In addition, he will act as the Commissioner’s Office’s lead liaison to each Club’s Stadium Operations Department.”
Marquette University, in a bio of Lucas when he won an alumni award, said, “Earnell is proud to have overseen security efforts at two World Series games; the 2008 All-Star Game at famed Yankee Stadium; the ’09 opening of new Yankee Stadium; the ’09 World Baseball Classic; and the ’09 All-Star Game in St. Louis at which President Obama threw out the first pitch.”
According to Lucas for Milwaukee, his soon-to-be campaign committee, “in addition to his duties as the VP of Educational Programming & Investigative Services for Major League Baseball, Lucas serves as a liaison between Minor League Baseball and local law enforcement agencies in its member clubs’ cities. He also works with league officials to identify and address security issues and facilitate training for Minor League Baseball players to help increase their personal security awareness.”
3. Lucas Attended Marquette University & Has Studied Organizational Management
Lucas spoke about his college experiences in the YouTube video published in 2012. In it, he said he grew up in the backdrop of Marquette University, and ended up attending the university.
He said he was a “returning adult” in college, according to the video, and studied organizational management and criminal law.
The MLB press release says Lucas “graduated cum laude from Marquette University with a degree in Criminology and Law Studies. Lucas also is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and the Northwestern University Traffic Institute School of Police Staff and Command, at which he was awarded the Franklin Kreml Leadership Award.”
Marquette awarded Lucas its Spirit of the College of Professional Studies Award, the university bio says.
4. Lucas Called Himself a ‘Real Critical Thinker’ & Once Said He Wanted to Have Dinner With Thurgood Marshall
The Marquette bio on Lucas says he was born and raised in Milwaukee. Asked to name someone (past or present) he’d like to have dinner with, Lucas selected the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, according to the bio.
He told Marquette, according to the bio, “To me, it’s an honor and a privilege to ensure the safety and integrity of America’s pastime. In today’s world, it’s imperative to acquire new technology and develop new techniques to protect the safety of the ballplayers, the fans and all those who enjoy the game of baseball.”
In the 2012 YouTube video, Lucas said he was a “real critical thinker” who tries not to have a myopic view. He said he was able to “blend” a lot of the management skills he learned into his own style.
Lucas spoke and then led the Pledge of Allegiance at the Milwaukee Democratic Party’s Annual Awards Dinner on March 26, 2017, according to the party’s Facebook page.
In contrast, Clarke – who also runs as a Democrat – was first appointed by a Republican governor, Scott McCallum, to be Milwaukee County Sheriff. He was elected in 2002 for his first four-term term as the Sheriff of largely Democratic Milwaukee County, which is Wisconsin’s most populous and diverse county. According to his bio, “Sheriff Clarke is now in his fourth term, having been re-elected in November 2006, 2010, and 2014, increasing his victory margins to 73%, 74% and 79% respectively.”
However, the fact that Clarke runs as a Democrat has enraged some of Wisconsin’s liberal bloggers who see him as anything but due to his outspoken, usually conservative views. For example, Clarke frequently rails against “liberals” and “modern liberalism” and against abortion, and Clarke is a supporter of Republican Governor Scott Walker and Trump.
However, UrbanMilwaukee.com recently wrote of a fissure that has emerged between Clarke and Charlie Sykes, a prominent former Milwaukee-area conservative talk radio host who is vocally opposed to Trump. Sykes, now a frequent contributor on MSNBC, has been a powerful force in local elections for conservative candidates in the past, and was a previous supporter of Clarke, who has been unabashed in his support for the president.
Selig, who also is from Milwaukee, said of Lucas in the 2008 MLB press release, “Earnell is an accomplished law enforcement official who has been a great asset to me personally and to Major League Baseball’s comprehensive security efforts.”
5. Sheriff Clarke Also Hails From the Milwaukee Police Department & Has Increased His National Presence
Clarke is known for his outspoken comments on guns, Black Lives Matter, and revolution, as well as the cowboy hat he frequently wears in television and public appearances. Clarke calls himself the “People’s Sheriff,” and often rides in Milwaukee parades on a horse.
Clarke started his career with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978, and served 24 years with that department. According to his official biography, he served 11 years as a patrol officer and “received meritorious citations for felony arrests.” He became a detective in 1989, and was assigned to the homicide division, “where he was part of a team that investigated more than 400 homicides in a four-year period.”
Clarke was promoted in 1992, to Lieutenant of Detectives and was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau as Shift Commander of the Crimes Against Property Division, the Violent Crimes Unit, and again to the Homicide Division. In 1996, he was promoted to MPD’s command staff as Captain of Police, and soon became Commander of the Department’s First District, located in Milwaukee’s downtown business and entertainment center.
Clarke rose through the ranks to become commanding officer of the MPD’s Intelligence Division, his bio says, and served as the MPD’s liaison with the United States Attorney’s office as coordinator of a violent crime reduction program called CEASEFIRE, which focused on illegal use of firearms. His bio says he has a degree in Criminal Justice Management from Wisconsin’s Concordia University. In 2013, he received an M.A. in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, in California.
Clarke, a speaker on the Republican National Convention’s “Make America Safe Again” night who frequently appears on national talk shows, caused controversy by telling CNN’s Don Lemon that he had predicted the Baton Rouge police shootings. In 2013, Clarke filmed a series of public service announcements that aired widely in the Milwaukee area and urged people to arm themselves rather than waiting to call 911.
As but one example of controversial rhetoric, after the Dallas police shootings, Clarke controversially tweeted of Obama: “American needs Obama to get out of bed & address Dallas situation NOW. He poured gas on this situation with his dog whistle message earlier.” Clarke has referred to “Islamism” as a “sick ideology” that needs destroying, is a strong supporter of the NRA, and refers to Black Lives Matter as Black “Lies” Matter. He tweeted March 30, “The Democrat Party already gave the Black Panthers their own country within the US. It’s called the American ghetto.” He also wrote recently, “Democrat Mayors slap residents in the face by hiding criminal illegal aliens who victimize them.”
Lucas has not been a very active participant in Milwaukee politics over the past decades, focusing instead on MLB and law enforcement.