Sunday, February 18, 2018
Politics

Hernando Republicans stick with candidate Sager despite lurid affair

I almost — almost — understand the Republican big shots who staked their reputations on Jason Patrick Sager's campaign.

Most of them originally backed Sager's Republican primary opponent, John Druzbick. And what else were they supposed to do once Sager beat him? Support their party's candidate, of course.

Even then, it seemed, a lot of them weren't pro-Sager so much as they were anti-Diane Rowden — his Democratic opponent for the District 3 Hernando County Commission seat.

Still, back him they did.

Banker Jim Kimbrough and his family's companies, for example, donated a total of $1,350 to Sager's campaign.

And now they're stuck with a candidate who has admitted an affair with his media liaison, Danielle Alexandre, and who …

… hasn't stopped posing on Facebook as a Christian and a family man, writing that his wife, Stephanie, "continues to be my rock and is by my side."

… has posted a new message on his campaign website, saying that he's kind of like the Founding Fathers — "flawed" but still fighting for liberty.

… refuses to do what's right by his family (surprise) and drop out of the race.

It would be bad enough if Sager really were just guilty, as he told the Times, of an "indiscretion … that happened."

That's not the way it looks from the emails retrieved from Alexandre's computer, which Sager wouldn't confirm that he'd written, which I guess opens up the possibility that somebody else with a tea party-tinged pseudonym was bombarding her with pornographic emails during the same period the two were exchanging dozens of texts per day and were caught on camera having sex.

That's what these emails were, too, porn — not love notes. And Sager comes off not as a run-of-the-mill hypocrite, but as a Hernando version (minus the criminal charges) of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker.

Are you really surprised? And do you think his Republican backers should be?

No, Sager's been a rotten apple from the start. The only way not to notice the stink was to willfully hold your nose.

He ran unsuccessfully for U.S. representative in 2010 promising to slash government spending — after collecting thousands in unemployment benefits.

His attack ads against Druzbick included economic figures that were not just fudged, but invented. He denied (and we all know how much his denials mean at this point) knowing about mysterious, disclosure-free robocalls that bashed Druzbick.

And, yes, this is the guy who suggested he'd joined the military as Operation Desert Storm raged when, really, it had been over for months.

Republicans were willing to ignore all this to try to beat the county's most viable Democratic candidate and avoid the calamity of a mere 4-1 Republican majority on the County Commission.

So, it's not about policy. It's about showing who's boss — and, maybe, about local party chairman and statewide vice chairman Blaise Ingoglia burnishing his resume with a Republican sweep in Hernando. That's partisan politics, of course. Nobody would expect anything different.

But now that their candidate has been exposed — now that it's clear Sager's election would be bad news all around — wouldn't it be nice to hear some of these leading Republicans admit they were wrong?

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