The anti-Gottlieb mailer sent out by the RPOF in 2012.
Eastern Hillsborough is easily the most socially conservative part of the vast county, but there are a sizable number of Democrats out there who believe that credible moderate candidates have a chance. No doubt the Republican Party of Florida was worried about that during the last 10 days of the 2012 campaign, when they feared that Democrat Gail Gottlieb might pull off an upset in the House District 59 seat race against Republican Ross Spano. Gottlieb was endorsed by the Tribune and the Times, and looked like she might have the right stuff to pull off an upset in the district that encompasses Brandon, Valrico and Riverview.
So the RPOF sent out an incendiary mailer that labeled her work with the Sierra Club "radical," with a photo associating that group and others like the AFL-CIO with terrorism.
It was "outrageous," in Gottlieb's words, and it certainly worked, as Spano won the seat in a close contest.
GOP consultants are now in a death match in the Hillsborough County District 4 GOP race for County Commission, where Janet Dougherty is facing former Tampa Police Officer Rick Cochran and school board member Stacy White. The Tampa Bay Times' Will Hobson reports today that political consultants are going after all three of the Republicans.
Pinellas House candidates Philip Garrett, Chris Shepard, Steve Sarnoff and Chris Latvala (standing at right).
Early voting for what will undoubtedly be a low turnout primary election began Saturday in Pinellas County, but one of the few intriguing primary races could be in the Democratic contest in House District 67 (Clearwater & Largo), where Shawna Vercher is competing against Steve Sarnoff and Thomas Ryan.
"We cannot run the third largest state in the country like it’s Mississippi," declared Sarnoff, a longtime city of Clearwater employee and president of the local branch of the Communications Workers of America union said on Saturday afternoon at a candidate forum in Clearwater. "We've got to learn that we have to accept change. We can't brag about how little taxes we pay, because that simply causes hardship, and eventually it's going to work against us."
Sarnoff didn't go as far as to cross the third rail of Florida politics - actually advocating for a state income tax - but he did say that's not what influences whether a business will relocate to the Sunshine State (undoubtedly Rick Scott and most state Republicans would disagree). Sarnoff says an improved education and transportation system is what's required to bring more high quality jobs to the state, and he'll fight for that if elected in November.
As the campaign to become Florida's next governor continues, signs are appearing of Charlie Crist going on the offensive after a summer on the receiving end of attack ads that has turned the race slightly in Scott's favor.
While the three-day, five-city tour under the slogan “Restore the Cuts” may come across as less aggressive than Scott's rhetoric, there's no doubt this tour is a direct attack on Scott's record on education during his first two years in office.
Hillsborough County School Board candidate Dipa Shah broke her silence today regarding that attack mailer that was sent to households in the county last weekend, that accused her of being opposed to "traditional values."
"I entered the school board race hoping to improve the education and opportunities for the children of Hillsborough County," Shaw said today at a press conference in downtown Tampa. "People support me because they agree that I am an unbiased voice, whose only concern is to improve student education and their opportunities," she added, reading from a prepared text.
"The United States of America is the greatest country because of the freedoms that we enjoy," continued Shah, an Indian-American whose family left India for the U.S. when she was just one year old."The Constitution gives every American the freedom of speech. Abraham Lincoln, in the closing statement of the Gettysburg Address, said our government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Asher Edelson leans against the bar at Maestro’s, waiting for his name to be called. The Straz Center eatery plays host once a month to the Tampa Tiger Bay Club, and today 10 candidates for the Hillsborough County School Board are about to engage in a Q&A with the public. He’s not noticeably nervous, though this is one of the biggest candidate forums he’s attended to date. Upon hearing his name, he takes his seat in the middle of the row of candidates.
His responses to questions are concise and occasionally illuminating. At times he appears to be fidgeting more than most, as if he has a crick in his neck. But he registers with the audience and even with some of his competitors, with District 6 opponent April Griffin declaring that she’s completely fallen for her younger opponent.
Afterwards, Asher’s dad, Steve, who was not able to see the forum live, comes by to give him a ride home. As father and son leave the restaurant, a waitress comes up to Steve and says, ”He was so good,” nodding at Asher.
In addition to living with his parents and not being old enough to drink, Asher Edelson has a burden that none of the other candidates running in Hillsborough County has to endure: He has Tourette’s syndrome. Though it could be a deterrent, the 20-year-old HCC-Ybor student says his condition just makes him work harder to try to achieve more.
Demanding to make the Florida political establishment take his third-party candidacy seriously, Libertarian Party of Florida gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie has named Pasco County insurance agent Greg Roe as his nominee for Lt. Governor and running mate.
"We're going to be dealing with dramatic issues with health insurance, flood insurance , property insurance and so on and so forth, so I really wanted someone who's an expert in that field on my team," Wyllie told CL this morning before attending a lunchtime campaign forum at Maggiano's in Westshore Mall. "He brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the campaign. We've been friends for some time. He's the chairman of the Libertarian Pasco County Party. He was the best choice."
Wyllie is in the middle of his "30 campaign events in 30 days" craft-brewery tour of the Sunshine State, and his voice has already given out not even halfway through August. He deflects the issue by self-deprecatingly saying that "If I sound like an elephant seal on helium, please forgive me."
The boardroom was packed at today's discussion of the Hillsborough County Policy Leadership Group.
Saying that they are looking to create a transportation plan that doesn't reflect politics but a sound policy, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill today received unanimous approval from the TED (Transportation Economic Development) Policy Leadership Group to begin public outreach to the community over the next two months. The outreach program will seek to figure out what projects and funding sources are needed before preparing a referendum to go before the public in 2016.
"This is a transformational moment in Hillsborough County," Merrill intoned before the crowd.
Although the Tea Party is considered more of a movement than an actual political party, there is an official Tea Party of Florida, and today they announced their endorsements in two GOP primary races for Hillsborough County Commission, as well as making a selection in the one countywide school board race.
The group likes Al Higginbotham in the Board of County Commissioners District 7 race (they incorrectly list it as District 6 in their press release), Stacy White in the District 4 race, and Paula Meckley in the District 6 school board contest.
“These three outstanding candidates are the Tea Party choices for the public office they seek because, unlike their opponents, they strongly support less taxes, less government and more individual freedom for Hillsborough County voters,” stated John Ferentinos, State Chairman of the Tea Party of Florida.
In the heavily Democratic precincts of Florida's House District 61 (which encompasses Ybor City, East Tampa, Seminole Heights and West Tampa) calling someone a "Rick Scott Republican" is not a term of endearment, so you can bet that that Ed Narain is not pleased about the mailer distributed this past weekend to households in the district from his opponent, Sean Shaw.
The mailer highlights support Narain received from “Republican lobbyists,” and says that a vote for him will just be “more of the same.”
"It's a low blow," Narain told CL on Monday afternoon. "It's really turned a lot people off to him," he says about Shaw. "I’m really disappointed by it and it's a reason why good people don’t get into politics. This type of mudslinging isn’t necessary."
We're 85 days away from the general election, plenty of time for Rick Scott and Charlie Crist to alienate more voters with their incessantly negative TV ad war campaign.
Crist's new ad is called "Shady," which should give you fair warning that it's not going to be a feel-good message about hope and change coming to Tallahassee after Charlie retakes the Governor's mansion. It starts with some vintage footage of Scott when he actually had hair, as he refuses to answer questions in a legal deposition that was videotaped when he was the head of one of his healthcare companies. Watch below:
Not to be outdone, the Rick Scott team has responded to an ad that came out last week from a political action committee that is opposing Scott's run for re-election. That would be the ad from Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate Action group that said that Scott "raked in $200,000 in campaign contributions from oil interests whose company profited from the pollution" near the Everglades.