Friday, September 21, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: The scarlet letter in a GOP primary

Perhaps nothing ripens Florida’s politics of stupid more than a hotly contested primary election. So much ambition. So little time to demagogue.

Before she became a Republican candidate for attorney general, Ashley Moody spent 10 years as a Hillsborough Circuit Court judge. Before becoming a judge, she was a federal prosecutor.

Yet Moody is being portrayed as a dreaded (hide the children) liberal. And even much worse than that, she’s a former Democrat (hide the pets, too).

Not that being a liberal or a former Democrat is all that bad, unless you are running in a Republican primary.

The Florida equivalent of tarring Moody with a sort of Hester’s "L" is the handiwork of two of her Republican rivals for attorney general, Rep. Frank White, R-"J’Accuse ...!" and Rep. Jay Fant, R-Who Stole My Strawberries? The are demanding Moody be given the bum’s rush off the Republican primary ballot because she is nothing more than a "Clinton liberal." The bill of particulars is awfully damning.

White and Fant charge:

• Moody was a registered Democrat 25 years ago, when she was 18. Oh, the scandal of it all!

• Moody’s father, James Moody, was appointed to the federal bench by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Treason, I tell you!

• As a student representative on the Florida Board of Regents, Moody once voted against then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposal to end affirmative action. Never mind Moody later reversed course and voted for it.

• She once was an intern for then-American Bar Association president Martha Barnett. a known, card-carrying Democrat. Obviously a Saul Alinsky-inspired plot.

• Moody once gave $100 to the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Bill McBride, who had been her boss at the Holland & Knight law firm. Betrayal!

• In the most duplicitous act of all, Moody once sued Donald Trump to get money refunded after she and her family had invested in the ill-fated Trump Tower project in downtown Tampa.

So, according to White and Fant, Moody is unqualified to even run for the attorney general.

By their standards, Ronald Reagan needs to be retroactively excommunicated from the Republican Party. Reagan was once a Democrat and president of a labor union — the Screen Actors Guild. Do you hear the strains of The Internationale?

And what about Trump, who was a Democrat and then an independent and then a Republican and perhaps there’s even a Mugwump registration in there somewhere?

If Moody’s intellectual honesty is being questioned because of prior associations, then White has a bit of explaining to do as well. He co-sponsored a measure to ban public campaign financing in Florida. Now there’s some rugged individualism for you. It is easy to be an up-by-the-bootstraps politician when your campaign has benefited from a $1.5 million contribution from your wife.

If Moody is actually a closeted Hillary-loving liberal Democrat, she has an odd way of showing it. She has been quite open in her support for Trump, avidly supports gun rights and opposes sanctuary cities even though there aren’t any in Florida. That’s a resume worthy of any Republican running for office in Florida, or an E-ticket to become a Fox News host.

It probably doesn’t help White and Fant’s case to rebrand Moody as the Tokyo Rose of Tallahassee that she has been endorsed by Attorney General Pam Bondi and a slew of Florida sheriffs, hardly a cabal of Bernie Sanders disciples.

People often change party affiliation. In the real world, it is likely one will find oneself working alongside a Democrat or two and not contract cooties.

Moody can make one claim that eludes White and Fant. There is at least one adult in the attorney general’s race.

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