An onslaught of attack mailers from a mystery political committee against Yvonne Fry in the state House District 58 Republican primary has intensified, with one or more mailers a day hitting east Hillsborough mailboxes.
The mailers, some with flimsy factual basis or outright false, portray Fry as a pro-tax, anti-gun liberal who opposed Donald Trump.
Her opponent, Lawrence McClure, continues to say he has no knowledge or responsibility for the mud eruption, but his campaign manager, Anthony Pedicini, has declined to answer directly about any involvement.
The head of the committee, Ash Mason, who's also chairman of the state Christian Coalition, won't discuss it.
Fry fought back with a mailer portraying McClure as a tool of Tallahassee special interests, another criticizing his sketchy Election Day voting record, and two mailers contrasting the two candidates to his detriment.
Fry says McClure promised her and her two children early in the campaign that he would not accept negative campaigning by an outside committee on his behalf, which is becoming a common Florida campaign tactic.
"He said he'd drop out of the race if that happened," she said.
Asked whether that's true, McClure didn't answer directly. As to possible involvement by Pedicini, he said via email, "Our campaign team is only doing things that are approved by our campaign."
The winner of the Tuesday primary will be frontrunner in the Dec. 19 general election to replace former Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City.
The mailers use a Trump-style, insulting nickname for Fry, "Lie'n liberal." Some of their accusations:
• She "supported (an) establishment politician" against Trump. Fry initially backed Jeb Bush, but says she voted for Trump after Bush left the race.
• Fry "was sued and ordered by a judge to pay over $100,000 as punishment for her shameful behavior" in "court-ordered fines" in a 1998 lawsuit. In fact, there were no punitive damages or fines. Fry was ordered to pay the debt, interest and fees in what she called "a business disagreement." The final judgment shows no finding of "shameful conduct."
• Fry "has joined the ranks of Obama, Clinton and Pelosi in declaring war on the Second Amendment" and "your God-given gun rights." Fry says she supports gun rights, but opposes open-carry and campus carry.
Mark Nash files against Commissioner Victor Crist
Business consultant and local Democratic Party official Mark Nash has filed to run in the countywide District 7 county commissioners race against Republican Victor Crist.
Nash, 55, of Lithia, said he's running because of what he calls poor decisions by commissioners on transit, growth, infrastructure and the "circus around the Confederate monument downtown."
"This isn't just about a statue that revives the racist hatred of the past, it's part of a larger problem. Our commission is paralyzed by political games and fear," Nash said. "It's starkly obvious we are not making the right choices as a county."
Nash has run for commissioner twice, losing to Al Higginbotham in 2012 and in a primary to Pat Kemp in 2014.
Single and a county native, Nash has a bachelor's degree in criminology and juvenile justice from Florida State University, but most of his career was in marketing and sales for Gillette. He returned home as Gillette's representative to Publix in 1997 and now does political and volunteer work.
He worked on former Commissioner Kevin Beckner's campaign and was Beckner's aide until 2010. He is former president of the Tampa/Hillsborough Human Rights Council.
Two other Democrats, Elvis Piggott and Jamela Passmore, plus Republicans Tim Curtis and Angel Urbina, have also filed for the commission seat.
Debate over meeting site roils county Republicans
The county GOP vice chairman has resigned, and the chairman faces a censure vote, after a fuss over where the party will hold its monthly meetings.
At the September meeting, Chairwoman Deborah Tamargo asked one speaker arguing for the River at Tampa Bay church to keep her comments brief because the party had already debated and held meetings at two proposed sites — the church and Netpark Tampa Bay — and was ready to vote.
Offended church backers filed a move to censure Tamargo; the executive board voted to send the motion to the full executive committee.
Vice Chairman Jeff Lukens told Tamargo in a statement this week he's quitting, apparently upset by what he considered a petty dispute.
The censure vote will take place in October in the venue that won, Netpark Tampa Bay.
Contact William March at [email protected]