We may not know who the winner of the Republican primary between Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe for State Senate District 22 is until August 14, but, make no mistake, Election Day is today, not in the middle of August.
According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections office, 39,082 ballots were mailed today to Republican voters in District 22. Whoever wins the majority of these votes is very likely to win this race, regardless of what happens now and the date formerly known as Election Day.
Of course, there is seemingly something always happening in this uber-competitive race.
Beginning last week and through this week, the Committee for Accountability in Government came to the aid of Brandes by launching a broadside against Frishe, criticizing him for being in politics for 40 years, a fact that is only accurate if you credit Frishe for his volunteer work as a member of the Young Republicans). Still, the “40 Years Is Enough” tack against Frishe is creative, if not brutally so.
Frishe’s allies with the Committee to Protect Florida, run by political consultant Rocky Pennington hit back with a TV spot and now a mailer criticizing Brandes for voting for a bill HB 245 aimed at shrinking Citizens insurance by allowing unregulated surplus lines carriers to take out policies from Citizens. (H/t to Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.)
Brandes and Frishe continue to trade endorsements. Brandes is touting the backing of the NRA and Sen. Anitere Flores, while Frishe recently earned the support of former Gov. Bob Martinez, GOP activist Gail Hebert, the Pinellas Park City Council and the Tampa Bay Builders Association.
However, it is the endorsement by local elder statesman Don Crane of Frishe which has folks buzzing today. Crane wrote an open letter to his considerable list of allies and associates explaining not only why he was supporting Frishe, but why he was upset with Brandes.
Framing the race as the most contentious local election in Pinellas history, Crane makes the case for Frishe and how he is sure vote for Jack Latvala for Senate President, while Brandes, whom Crane describes as a friend, is not and therefore he does not have in mind the best interests for Pinellas County.
“Several of Jeff’s friends asked him not to get in this race.” Crane writes. “If Jeff would commit to supporting Jack, I would not have spent my time writing a letter I did not want to write.”
No doubt, many people, including some of those receiving ballots this week, feel the same way as Crane.