St. Petersburg City Council Member Daren Rice sent another letter to voters denigrating one of his main rivals in the mayoral race, former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.
Like one flyer that hit mailboxes over the weekend, another got hit with Welch on Tuesday for accepting donations and referrals from what the courier describes as supporters of former President Donald Trump .
The sender cites a March 19 Tampa Bay Times article titled Ken Welch’s supporters in St. Pete’s mayoral race include prominent Republicans in support of his demands. This is the same quote used in the previous mailer.
The sender, like previous flyers, also claims Welch used his position of power for personal gain, citing an October 2018 Times article. There does not appear to be an article listed with that exact date, but The Times’ coverage around this period was extensive and linked to the dismissal of Welch’s wife, Donna Welch, from her position as director of reading at the James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center. In an editorial dated November 8, 2018, The Times editorial board lamented an obvious conflict of interest after Welch pressured officials to hire the RClub Child Care in St. Pete to take over a program for children. literacy in reading. This group offered to hire Welch’s wife.
The language on the two senders is virtually identical when it comes to Welch’s review. But the two flyers differed in a major way, the first containing praise for Rice as a progressive leader, while the second made no mention of her apart from the required warning that the content was paid for by the Rices political committee, Friends of Darden Rice.
In the days following the first mail, several Welsh supporters publicly denounced the content as hypocritical. While it’s true that Welchs’ list of donors and endorsers includes Republicans, Rice also has many contributions from local Republicans, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Many of them are within the sphere of influence of former Republican Mayor Rick Bakers.
This is the height of hypocrisy after Darden Rice spent the last week dropping blatantly bogus bogus mail to deceive voters, she doubled down at last night’s Black Caucus forum, Welch said.
Here are the Facts Darden has more Trump donors than anyone else in the race; she voted to help big developers, then asked them for big donations right after she voted to limit campaign donations. Some people are ready to say and do anything to get elected, I won’t.
Welch referred to Rice’s leadership on city-wide campaign finance reform, which now prevents city candidates from raising more than $ 5,000 each per race from outside spending groups. At the start of her campaign, Rice was criticized for appearing to violate the spirit of this ordinance.
The campaign materials also ignore another major contradiction in her claims, which Rice previously endorsed and helped raise funds to elect fellow Republican Robert Blackmon, who is now also running for mayor. She appeared at the Blackmons’ campaign launch two years ago alongside Baker and made a fiery speech for contributions to his campaign.
But these contradictions weren’t the only thing Welsh supporters took offense to. Both senders also use archival footage of black individuals. The first showed a black woman with her arms crossed and looking annoyed, alongside a claim that Ken Welch is linked to Trump supporters.
The second shows an older black man sitting with his arms crossed next to a similar claim.
The truth about Ken Welch is that he’s endorsed by Trump supporters and funded by Trump supporters, the mailer reads.
A Google image search of this photo yielded several results, including a testimonial for the company C3 Medical, an article on the demographics of osteoarthritis on GSK Health Partner, and is available on the photo site, photostockeditor.com under looking 60 64 years.
The negative letters arrive despite Rices’ previous claim that she is not running a partisan campaign.
Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times when she officially launched her campaign in January (before Republicans entered the contest), Rice said she doesn’t plan to run this as a partisan race.
I don’t think anyone wants to see another nasty election like the one we saw between Baker and (Rick) Kriseman, she added.
His reference was to the 2017 Mayors’ Race, which Kriseman won after linking Baker to Trump.
A spokesperson for the Rices campaign, Meagan Salisbury of Blue Ticket Consulting, did not immediately respond to a text or email requesting comment from the senders.
This is not the first time that Blue Ticket Consulting has used Trump tactics in a race. Two years ago Salisbury’s husband Tom Alte, who runs the business with Salisbury, sent several letters criticizing Republican City Council member Ed Montanari, also linking him to Trump. At the time, Alte represented Democrat Orlando Acosta, who was running against Montanari. Acosta lost that race and faced backlash, some from fellow Democrats, for essential campaign material.
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