TAMPA—Six more days to go, Tampa, and all the mailers and TV ads in an increasingly fact-free mayoral race will end.
In the meantime, David Straz launched a new line of attack Wednesday against Jane Castor, who leads the race by a healthy margin, according to two independent polls released this week.
In the ad, the Straz campaign says Castor “can’t be trusted” because of corporate and establishment donations to her campaign. The commercial then pivots to a claim that suggests Straz hasn’t broken a pledge to limit campaign donations to $500. He has at least a dozen times.
“No contributions over $500,” a narrator intones.
Sometimes it helps to drop the verb and get rid of that pesky tense problem.
Last week, a Times analysis found that Straz has accepted at least 12 donations greater than $500. Only one had been returned, according to the latest campaign filings.
At a Spectrum Bay News 9 televised debate last week, moderator Holly Gregory asked about the gulf between Straz’s pledge, which he has made since the beginning of his campaign last May, and reality.
“We have a large staff,” Straz said. “We are refunding to all those people."
Castor responded with a tart quip, saying Straz is only sorry about breaking his pledge because he got caught.
The attack on Castor’s fundraising represents a new probe by Straz as the clock ticks down to the April 23 election.
He has raised nearly $4.6 million, nearly all of it out of his own fortune — which he listed as $426 million in required financial disclosure forms. Castor has raised about $1.9 million. The race has far exceeded any previous spending in Tampa Bay local political history.
For the past two weeks, the Straz attack had focused on claims that Castor, the former police chief, manipulated crime statistics. Those claims faltered in a series of campaign blunders, including retired small-town cop who was paid $5,000 only to say he was relying on intuition, not the data. Later, the Straz said a state report “proved” Castor fudged stats. In fact, the report concluded the Tampa Police Department’s statistical methods were sound.
Here is the ad, which a Straz campaign release said would run on cable and network TV.