Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pasco GOP fight gets more bitter with late mail

24

August

Pasco County state committeeman John Renke II has sent a direct mailing this weekend blistering county GOP chairman Bill Bunting. Bunting is trying to oust the longtime committeeman in Tuesday's primary in an unusually heated race for a low profile, unpaid post with the state party (See: robocalls, Gov. Charlie Crist).

BesiRenke_mailer_3_of_4des saying Bunting "embarrasses the Republican Party," Renke's  attack recites Bunting's misdemeanor convictions (though not saying they're 50 years old) and former union steward work. Under "career," Renke notes Bunting was a "former sanitation worker & bar owner" and Renke's an "attorney" -- without of course mentioning Florida Bar discipline action pending against Renke. And under family, it mentions Bunting's divorces and Renke's 41-year marriage.

"It's cowardly," said Bunting, who has criticized Renke's work ethic but not mentioned him in mailings for the race.

"It's factual," Renke said.

And Bunting's also hot about a connection to recent anonymous mailings ripping him. Those mailings were sent under a postage permit held by Eagle Data of St. Petersburg, which declined to identify its client this month. This weekend's Renke mailer says on its front that its postage was paid by -- guess who? -- Eagle Data.

"Coincidence or no coincidence, I don't know how many people do mailings with that mailing company," Renke said. "They're never going to find any proof that I did it, because I didn't."

-- David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:33am]

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