The state Democratic party — and state Senate candidate Frank Bruno of Volusia County — are crying foul over a radio ad paid for by the Republican Party of Florida. The ad, featuring two men named “Vinnie” and “Joey” and talking in stereotypical Italian accents, go through a litany of taxes that have gone up under Bruno’s tenure as County Chairman and refer to him as a “political boss.”
“Don’t you get it? Frankie Bruno thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” says one of the characters. There’s no mention of Bruno’s opponent, Rep. Dorothy Hukill.
“I am a proud Italian American and a long time member of the Sons of Italy,” said Bruno in a statement that he was “saddened that Dorothy Hukill would attack my heritage.”
In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party added: “This offensive, derogatory ad is insulting to all Floridians who expect and deserve a substantive debate about the important issues facing our state… Hukill’s self-serving behavior, and the GOP’s broken politics, are exactly why Florida families are fed up with Tallahassee, and we call on the RPOF to pull these offensive ads and apologize to Florida’s Italian American community.”
For her part, Dorothy Hukill doesn’t see a problem with the ad.
“In regard to a radio ad being sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida, there is a false allegation made by our opponent who believes the ad disparages a certain ethnic community. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ad depicts two men, with New Jersey accents, incredulous by the fact that a candidate who supports higher taxes, enjoys perks paid at taxpayer expense, and locally represents the county with the 2nd-highest tax rate, is running for higher office. THAT is the basis for the ad, nothing more, nothing less. We find it interesting that this attack comes the same day in which a recent poll shows our opponent trailing by 20 points in the general election match up. Perhaps he should be more concerned about explaining his tax and spend record to the voters rather than his misplaced anger at a radio spot.”
Bottom line? Me thinks the voices used in this ad against Bruno are probably the same used in a borderline offensive ad deployed against Mike Weinstein.
In that ad, put out by Liberty Foundation of Florida, which backed Aaron Bean, Weinstein’s New Jersey roots were made an issue. “Mikey is telling people he has Jacksonville roots,” says a character with a thick accent right out of “The Sopranos.”
“Mikey? Mikey Weinstein from Jersey?” replied a second character identified as Vinnie.
At the time, several sources close to the Weinstein campaign told me they thought the ad was an attempt to portray Weinstein as Jewish in a district that is devoutly Christian. Weinstein lost that race handily. That’s why I’m not surprised to see the return of “Joey” and “Vinnie” to the radio.
Evidently, Italians, Jews, and Yankees are all the same to the radio ad script writers at the Republican Party.
Material from the Florida Times-Union and the Orlando Sentinel were used in this post.