Bradenton Beach’s bizarre election tie-breaker gets national exposure

A Netflix show featuring Bradenton Beach's unusual election tie-breaker last November between William Shearon and Jack Clarke will stream starting Thursday.

Chelsea Handler, comedian and host of the Netflix show, “Chelsea,” interviewed Shearon in mid-March at Bradenton Beach City Hall. Clarke declined an interview for the talk show.

Publicist Niki Kazakos confirmed the streaming date. According to the episode’s logline, Blake Shelton from “The Voice” joins Handler in-studio to discuss his newest album and former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank offers his political insight as he and the show host consider the current state of the 2016 election.

Shearon told the Herald that his interview with Handler was lighthearted and interesting. He paused, and then corrected himself, saying it was “a little bit more than interesting.”

The primary focus of their interview was on the historic tie-breaker, which took place Nov. 4 at the Manatee County supervisor of elections office. Shearon was named mayor of Bradenton Beach after he drew an ace of clubs in the tie-breaker. Then-Mayor Clarke, who sat across from Shearon, drew a 10 of clubs.

The tense moment came after a machine recount and a manual recount confirmed the 195-195 result from the night prior.

“We went more into depth of what happened at the supervisor of elections office,” Shearon said. “We talked about that — it’s a unique way. I told her the only mistake that I made was, when I left the supervisor of elections office, I didn’t go to the closest convenience store to buy a lottery ticket.”

Shearon previously told the Herald he wasn’t familiar with Handler's witty and often vulgar sense of humor, but that “we'd get along good, then.”

“I kept emphasizing that every vote counts,” he said, “and that was the real spirit of it. It was kind of a humbling experience in the respect that I thought it was just going to be like any local TV interview where they come and set up a camera and we talk. It was more involved than that.”

Shearon recalled a crew — half of which he said came from California and the other half from Miami — setting up inside the Katie Pierola Chambers two hours before the interview. Chairs were removed from the room, and the fluorescent lights switched out and replaced with the crew’s own lighting.

“I thought it was just going to be the run–of–the–mill thing but it was quite a production,” the mayor said. “I’d never seen that. I’d never experienced that.”

In an email in late February, Clarke said “revisiting what is a done-deal serves little purpose.”

“My ego does not demand a forum of this type to indulge in speculation or a litany of complaint. I appreciate the opportunity offered by Ms. Handler, but I see no up-side to exposure of this type,” he wrote. “Participation in this type of presentation merely furthers the negative perception of Bradenton Beach. The supervisor of elections Mr. (Mike) Bennett followed to the letter the statutes and policies of his office.”

The bizarre tie-breaker was the first time in at least 20 years that an election ended this way in Manatee County, according to Bennett. News of the tie-breaker widely spread throughout Florida and the rest of the country.

Asked if he has a Netflix account, Shearon said he doesn’t know.

“Tjet (Shearon’s girlfriend) handles my IT stuff,” he said, adding that he’s visually impaired. “I’ll definitely be watching it.”

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo

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