The Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Jeremy Wallace describes it as “maybe the most vicious ad I have ever seen in a local race here.”
I believe it’s the most lethal political ad I’ve ever seen in Florida politics.
We’re talking about the ad launched by State Attorney candidate Peter Lombardo, which features an elderly widow holding Lombardo’s opponent, Ed Brodsky, for the murder of her husband because, she contends, Brodsky mishandled the case of the killer, Michael Leon Walker, who should have been in jail for a previous robbery. The State Attorney’s Office was unable to find the victim in that crime and let him go. Brodsky, who was the felony division chief for the state attorney at the time, signed the document that dropped the charges against Walker. (As reported by Wallace here.)
The decision to create and air this brutal of an ad could not have been easy, so I spoke with Lombardo’s political consultant Anthony Pedicini about what went in to the making of the spot.
“Six months ago, while reviewing a campaign plan for Lombardo, we realized we were going to be out gunned, so we needed something that would stand out,” said Pedicini. “In talking with our candidate we learned about Roberta Ramsey, an elderly widow whose husband was murdered.”
Continued Pedicini: “As we investigated further, we found the story grew when we found the arresting officer and he told us how easy it would’ve been to find the victim of the original crime with a little more work. It was unsettling. Our candidate was compelled to find justice for the Ramsey family.”
“When we finally met Roberta for the shoot, it was emotinally charged, to say the least. The ad was the ad and she really just expressed her frustration over her husband’s death. Not one person had a dry eye and everyone left feeling like what we were doing was giving Roberta a piece of justice, but in a different way.”
After the first draft of ad was filmed and edited, Lombardo’s campaign was still not finished with the production.
“Once we had the ad, it was lawyered almost to death,” said Pedicini. “(T)he one thing that compelled us to keep it as you see it, besides the candidate approving, the lawyers approving, and Roberta approving was something Roberta said to us: ‘If someone were to come here and ask me that question over and over again, my story wouldn’t change… Ed Brodsky was responsible for my husband’s death.’ ”
Despite the hard-hitting nature of the ad, Pedicini and his client are comfortable with the decision to air it. “Most importantly, you have Roberta Ramsey finding justice for her dead husband.”