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Anonymous mailer in SD 18 race gets everyone outraged

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

(UPDATED)

A political mailer being distributed in Florida’s 18th state Senate District has brought Dana Young and Joe Redner and Bob Buesing together — to criticize it.

For all intents and purposes, it looks like a mailer from the Redner campaign, referring to him as a “Bernie Sanders progressive” and criticizing Young as “just another Republican” and Democrat Bob Buesing as a “Rick Scott crony.”

However, it’s not paid for by Redner, but instead by a mysterious third-party group called Social Justice PAC, with an address listed on Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee. On its disclosure form, it lists one official, L. Mclnnis, as its chairperson. A phone call to the number listed for the group was not returned.

Redner, who has boasted throughout the campaign he is not bought and paid for by special interests, says he had nothing to do with the ad, and immediately blamed the Young campaign.

“She’s been smearing Bob with lies and innuendos this whole campaign,” he emailed on Thursday night. “This sleazy flier is just more of the same. You can bet it came from her, or she knows exactly who did it.”

Young emphatically denied having anything to do with the mailer, and said it was a desperate measure by Redner to even suggest she would. She added she was confident she would win the election on Tuesday, and would no longer have to deal with the negative attacks from her opponents

Buesing said he believes the mailer came from someone associated with the Republican Party of Florida.

“It’s clear to me that this comes from Dana Young supporters as an attempt to peel votes from me,” Buesing said when contacted later Friday.

The mailer says Buesing “cozied up” to Scott to get appointed to a state regulatory board. Last December, Scott selected six people to serve on the Child Care Executive Partnership, a public/private program to help employers meet the needs of working parents.

Buesing is a major advocate of early learning for children, and has made it a centerpiece of his campaign. He said the board meets quarterly, generally by conference call, and is designed to help businesses provide high quality childcare for their employees. He said he was never directly interviewed by Gov. Scott, and that the photograph of him next to Scott in the mailer was photoshopped.

“I’m proud of that service, and it’s pretty appalling that the Republican party operatives behind this piece would use this as some sort of crony of the governor vs. being a good citizen to help the state of Florida,” he said.

The mailer also says Buesing “has a history” of donating to the campaign of a right-wing conservative Republican running for the state Legislature. Buesing said most of his political contributions over the years have been for Democrats, but he says he’s definitely contributed to moderate Republicans in some races over the years, and says he has no idea who the mailer is referring to.

Buesing, Young, Redner, and independent Sheldon Upthegrove are on the ballot for the SD 18 seat, which encompasses South Tampa and much of the western part of Hillsborough.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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