Late last month, former state Sen. John Legg announced that he would not attempt to return to the Legislature in 2018. Had he run, Legg’s best path to victory was thought to be through north Pinellas’ Senate District 16, where incumbent Jack Latvala is term-limited from running again.
The person who benefits the most from Legg not running is former state Rep. Ed Hooper who, even if Legg was in the race, is the early front-runner to replace Latvala.
Hooper was in Tallahassee last Monday for a fundraiser hosted by Latvala, the next two Senate Presidents — Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson — as well as almost all of Republicans who comprise Tampa Bay’s legislative delegation.
In other words, with Legg out and the establishment behind him, Hooper should cruise in 2018, or at least through the Republican primary.
But something, admittedly trivial, has me just a tad bit worried. It’s this dang invitation (pictured below) for a fundraiser on March 29.
To look at, the invitation is hideous. And whoever filled up the invite with those throwaway puns should have their keyboard taken away.
Seriously, this invitation looks like a dog’s breakfast.
Maybe it was designed by an earnest volunteer. And maybe a campaign intern was in charge of the writing.
But you know what this invite reminds me of?
It’s a big serving of Jim Frishe Velveeta cheese.
Frishe, of course, is the former state Representative who wanted a seat in the Florida Senate but was defeated by Jeff Brandes in a 2012 primary. The tech-savvy Brandes campaign exposed the well-meaning Frishe as a career politician and out-of-date. The final result was not even close.
Ed Hooper’s situation is not the same as Jim Frishe’s. There isn’t a Senate leadership fight shaping the primary in Senate District 16 (at least not yet). Hooper’s not on the opposite side of the Brandes-Nick Hansen wing of the Pinellas GOP which, in 2016, beat Frishe a second time in the Pinellas Property Appraiser contest.
Hooper should not have to endure a primary.
But cheesy stuff like this coming out of the Hooper camp might give some self-financing, unknown conservative — basically a Jeff Brandes of Palm Harbor — the idea that Hooper is, like Frishe was shown to be, a career pol and out-of-date.
And remember, Hooper’s coming off a loss to Democrat Pat Gerard for a County Commission seat. Many observers say that was Hooper’s race to win, but his campaign failed to execute a winning plan.
Sending out invitations designed like the one below may indicate Hooper did not learn from that loss.
Hooper can and should do better than this.