Email Insights: Playing dirty in House District 15

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As the old saying goes: “When you fight with a pig, you both get dirty – and the pig likes it.”

Infuriated by accusations from his GOP primary opponent, House District 15 Republican candidate Paul Renner swears he has not broken the “clean campaign pledge.”

But Renner’s opponent – Republican Jay Fant – most certainly has. At least that is what Renner’s campaign is saying.

This particular wrestling match is about a mail piece sent to HD 15 voters, from a “third party leveling unfounded or misleading charges” against Renner.

Renner, a former South Florida state attorney who served in the Navy during Desert Storm, faces Fant in the Aug. 26 primary for the district covering the western part of Jacksonville and much of Duval County.

In an email from the Renner campaign, Fant “is mistaken in his claim that Paul Renner broke the ‘Florida Republican Code of Conduct’ they both signed.”

Now they turn the tables on who is truly fighting “dirty,” and that is the part that pigs love.

Renner’s campaign then goes to say, “In fact, it is Mr. Fant’s campaign press release that is actually in clear violation of that Code.”

The Renner Campaign insists it did not mail the mailer Fant is referencing, and clearly identified as “Paid electioneering paid for by Better Florida Fund.”

Although third-party involvements have been a longstanding tradition in politics, both in Florida and nationally, it is only in the past few election cycles where it has reached this frenzied pitch.

Candidates now are expected to campaign on two fronts. The first is directly against his or her opponent, usually on the issues (but not always). The second is a constant battle to maintain the moral “high ground” by regularly disavowing the various third-party groups working in the shadows.

“It’s not me playing rough, it’s YOU,” is the oldest move out there.

Now voters are left to sort out who is telling the truth on Aug. 26..

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.