Republican consultant Anthony Pedicini is the latest target of a negative mailer in the vitriolic House District 58 primary.
Pedicini serves as a campaign consultant for Lawrence McClure, the 30-year-old Dover businessman vying to take over the seat previously held by Dan Raulerson, who resigned in August. He’s running against Plant City businesswoman and civic activist Yvonne Fry.
Over the past few weeks, the HD 58 race has become particularly nasty.
The latest mailer features a puppet with the tagline, “Who’s Pulling Lawrence McClure’s strings?” Then, it links Pedicini with “Tallahassee insiders, trial attorneys, progressives, shady political committees, mudslinging guns for hire.”
On the mailer’s opposite side are links to some provocative quotes, accusing Pedicini of calling Gov. Rick Scott “a paper tiger,” saying he didn’t think Charlie Crist could be beaten in Florida’s 13th Congressional District race, as well as a comment that in political campaigns “negative works.”
The mailer says it was paid for by The Florida Leadership Fund, a political committee run out of Venice by former Sarasota County Republican Party chairman Eric Robinson.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune once described Robinson “The Prince of Dark Money.”
Robinson says he knows nothing about the mailer.
“One of my state Reps called me up and said, ‘What the hell are you doing to Anthony Pedicini?’ And I’m like – what are you talking about? I don’t have any problem with Anthony. We have clients together. I didn’t know anything about this.”
Robinson then spoke with Pedicini, worried it could mean the end of their business relationship.
“I’m not in the business of pissing off political consultants. That’s not what treasurers do,” Robinson said. “That’s how I make my livelihood, working with political consultants.”
Fry’s campaign manager, Brock Mikosky, did not return a request for comment.
Pedicini runs Strategic Image Management, a GOP political consulting firm that has worked with a slew of Republicans, both in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, including Bill Galvano, Shawn Harrison, Chris Sprowls, Victor Crist, Sandy Murman, Chad Chronister and Jackie Toledo, among others.
What made Pedicini especially controversial was his work with Toledo in her bid for a Tampa City Council seat. Both Guido Maniscalco and Tommy Castellano accused Pedicini of involvement in negative third-party mailers in that race, which Maniscalco ultimately won.
Pedicini could not be reached for comment Thursday night.