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East Tampa activist says mailer in HD 61 indicates she’s supporting a candidate that she isn’t

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

East Tampa activist Michelle Patty is upset about a campaign mailer that she says infers she’s supporting a candidate that she’s not in the House District 61 race.

On the backside of a just issued mailer paid for by the Florida Retail Federation PAC, Patty is seen standing next to East Tampa businesswoman and activist Dianne Hart, who is running against fellow Democrats Sean Shaw and Walter Smith in the Tampa-centric district, which encompasses downtown Tampa, Ybor City and Seminole Heights.

However, Patty is backing Shaw in the contest, and she’s demanding an apology from Hart for the perception that she’s not.

“Some of the members of my congregation have approached me asking for an explanation for seemingly endorsing a candidate who doesn’t hold our values or the values of our neighborhoods,” Patty sent out in a statement Thursday night. She wants Hart to apologize to her personally, and to the voters in HD 61.

“I further ask that you be truthful with voters going forward,” Patty writes, adding, “We need someone who will stand up to special interests in Tallahassee, not join them in misleading voters.”

When contacted, Hart said she hadn’t even seen the ad sent out from Tallahassee by the Florida Retail Federation’s PAC.

“The pictures were public photos of public events,” Hart said on Friday. “I would definitely apologize if she would contact me. I don’t want to use anybody on any of my stuff that is not a supporter of mine, that’s for certain.”

Hart added that it doesn’t benefit her to have an ad showing somebody that isn’t a supporter of her. When questioned that it could possibly help her in her campaign against Shaw and Smith, Hart said she didn’t think so.

“Everybody knows who Michelle Patty is supporting,” adding, “If she says something to me I will definitely speak to her about that.”

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

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