Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Politics

Partisan politics enters District 3 School Board race in Hernando

Longtime Spring Hill resident Lori Eley was shocked by the robocall message she found waiting for her on her answering machine Monday.

In a voice reminiscent of an emergency weather alert, a man warns that Hernando County School Board candidate Jay Rowden is asking people to request to vote by visiting a certain website that might seem to be official.

"It is not," the message states. "It is a website owned by an officer of the Hernando County Democratic Party and is designed to trick you into giving up your email. This was an important voter alert."

The message then stated it was paid for by Voter Interest Group, a Republican-backed electioneering group in Tallahassee.

Eley was left with a distinct impression.

"It's pretty surprising" she said. "School Board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan."

The incident highlights the decidedly partisan nature of the supposedly nonpartisan District 3 School Board race.

On one side, Rowden, a former chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee, is directing people to a website run by that organization. Meanwhile, the race's other candidate, Beth Narverud, has been supported by a host of mailers and robocalls from partisan electioneering groups and the Hernando County Republican Party.

Rowden says that there is nothing sinister in directing residents to the website and that he didn't do it to try to cull voter emails.

"I think it's a whole lot to do with nothing," he said.

Steve Zeledon, chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee, said a member of the party set up a website, votehernando.com, to help voters register to vote or request an absentee ballot. He said hernandovotes.com, the Hernando Supervisor of Elections' website, is confusing.

The idea was to try to "make it simple and provide a portal that funnels people into whatever they want," Zeledon said. "Effectively, that's what we did."

The website also has a place for visitors to enter their name and email, though this is not required. Zeledon said the primary purpose of the site was to direct people to register. He said the group already get numerous emails that are voluntarily given to the elections supervisor.

"The whole idea that we're trying to scam email addresses from people — we don't," he said. "We have all we need."

None of this is illegal, says Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson, a Republican.

"This website is not illegal, but these tactics only lead to voter confusion and voter mistrust," she said in a statement. "If candidates truly wanted to assist voters, they would give them the direct link."

A disclaimer was added to the website indicating the page was created by the Democratic Party.

At least three different groups have paid for ads for Narverud, including the Hernando County Republican Party. Among other things, the ads tout her "conservative" perspective and her objection to the Common Core State Standards.

The Hernando County Republican Party and Narverud did not return messages seeking comment.

Rowden took issue with all the partisan dollars being poured into the race.

"I thought it was a nonpartisan race when I got into it," he said. "Evidentially, it's not."

Zeledon agreed, saying the local Democratic Party wouldn't put money into such a race.

"It would be completely inappropriate for us to do anything like that," he said. "The Democratic Executive Committee has not and never will support anyone in a nonpartisan race."

Contact Danny Valentine at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.

Comments

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Published: 04/23/18
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18