2018 attorney general race

Fant’s Trump “supporters” say what?

Here’s the latest episode in the drama between Jay Fant and Ashley Moody’s camps as the GOP attorney general battle continues to heat up.

Fant’s camp brought out the knives last week in an apparent effort to slow down the  momentum Moody appears to be gaining in the GOP contest for attorney general.

Fant, a state House member from Jacksonville, asked Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia to blackball Moody, a former judge from Tampa, from the state party’s next annual meeting in January. Ingoglia, a fellow state rep, quickly put the ixnay on the idea.

Fant’s campaign, guided by longtime Gov. Rick Scott advisor Melissa Stone, then announced that Fant had received “endorsements from Trump campaign county chairs that were instrumental in President Donald Trump’s 2016 win.”

Just one problem: Some of the folks on the list haven’t endorsed Fant.

Carolyn Otworth, the Clay County chair of the Trump Club, said her name was included on the list without her approval. Otworth told Truth Or Dara this weekend she hadn’t signed a form endorsing Fant, and hasn’t decided whether to back the candidate.

“I was just shocked that anyone would say I endorsed them when I did not,” Otworth, who served as the Clay county chair of Trump’s presidential campaign, said. “He seems like a really nice person, though.”

Fant called her late Friday to apologize, and promised her name would be removed from the list, Otworth said.

Florida law makes it a crime for “any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.”

In an email, Stone said this about the Otworth situation: “After several conversations, she asked not be included on list at this time. We will update the list to remove her while adding additional endorsements coming in.”

But Otworth maintained she had never given permission for her name to be included in the endorsement roundup.

The kerfuffle over the endorsements prompted Ken Mayo, who served as director of Florida field operations for Trump’s presidential campaign, to send a long explainer to supporters, arguing that Fant is the most Trumpian candidate.

As most of you probably already know, a press release went out yesterday with a number of us “endorsing” Jay for Attorney General.  I’m sending this in response to a number of calls I’ve received in reference to the release and also in reference to a couple of calls I’ve received about certain individuals supporting one of Jay’s opponents.

In reference to the release I’ve gotten a few calls about some of the (minor) mistakes listed on the press release.  I understand your concerns that it shouldn’t have happened, but sometimes in campaigns things are moving fast and slip through the cracks.  No excuse.  Just a fact.  Don’t think it doesn’t happen in every campaign.  It does and if anyone tells you otherwise they are not telling you the truth.  Sometimes mistakes can do major damage to a campaign and in other cases they are very minor in the big scheme of things.  The mistakes on this release are clearly in the later category.  In fact, other than those of us that are on the list, and maybe a few other Trump supporters that might want to take advantage of it, the people on the streets have no idea, nor do they care, so don’t let this get you worked up.  And don’t let anyone try and drive a wedge between you and Jay over this.  The key to missteps like this is getting on top of them and making necessary corrections so they don’t happen in the future.  I assure you Jay’s team is doing that.

As for the second issue it seems some people are being told they should rescind their endorsement of Jay because the president is supporting Ashley Moody.  If you are hearing such things make sure you are doing your due diligence.  Ask for confirmation of such a claim before you step back from what is now a public commitment on your part.  You are leaders in your community, and knowing that I would advise against such a move without hard proof.  It can make you look wishy washy.  A flip-flopper.  And by the way, there are many MAGA (groups) in the country and in our state, and no one owns the MAGA mantle except Donald Trump.  Being told if you support Jay and not Ashley means you are not supporting the president is nonsense.  Don’t let anyone try and persuade you otherwise.  Ask yourself this question.  In 2015 and 2016 do you feel you were not a legitimate supporter of the president and his MAGA vision until you got an official confirmation or approval from someone on the campaign?  Of course not.

And last, remember this, the primary is in August, so don’t let anyone play games by saying the endorsement of Ashley Moody will be forthcoming next year, and then it keeps getting pushed off month after month, pushing us ever so closer to the primary when it’s to late to do anything about it.  A tactic like that can be used to simply to drive a wedge between you and someone you are supporting, damage that person in your mind, and then the endorsement never comes.  Don’t be suckered by such “tactics”.  Demand proof.  There is no question Jay was (and is) a supporter of the President (see the links below).  Yet in my opinion there is every reason to question if Ashley was (or is).  And don’t be misled by the claim that because she was a judge she couldn’t do so publicly.  That is way to convenient.

Jay Fant is not only a Trump supporter, but is the only candidate running for this position that can (as far as I know) substantiate that claim.   He was there in the beginning.  The very first rally in Florida had Jay on the stage endorsing the president.  And for me personally, when I add the “fact” that Jay was working closely with conservative grass roots leaders in the early days, and ran for office based on conservative principles, there is no question in my mind that he is what he says he is.

I endorsed Jay Fant and will continue to do so.

Ken Mayo

House Republicans Frank White of Pensacola and Ross Spano of Dover are also in the running.

Another UPDATE: Fant wants “true liberal” Moody blackballed from RPOF meeting

SECOND UPDATE: This response from Ashley Moody campaign spokeswoman, Christina Johnson:

“It is laughable that a candidate running to be Florida’s Chief Legal Officer would offer up such erroneous and egregious attacks on the proven record of a former and well respected federal prosecutor and circuit court judge. Ashley Moody is pro-Second Amendment and the only candidate who has supported Second Amendment priorities like Stand Your Ground in the courtroom. These are real world distinctions that matter to voters, and issues which Ashley Moody has shared with Republican activists across the state these last months and throughout her career. Not only is Ashley Moody a staunch supporter of our President, but she has secured the endorsements of those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the President’s campaign, including law enforcement officials and elected leaders across the state. We look forward to highlighting these conservative values at the January RPOF meeting.”

UPDATED: RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia gave us this smackdown about Jay Fant’s request to have Ashley Moody banned from the party’s annual meeting next month:

“All Republicans running for statewide office are welcome to attend RPOF meetings. We will not, and should not, interject ourselves in the middle of primaries. Nor, should the RPOF become the arbiter of a candidates conservative credentials. If Rep. Fant thinks this will resonate with the electorate, then take it directly to the primary voters,” said RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

Here’s the original post:

Ouch. Our eyeballs are on fire after reading GOP attorney general candidate Jay Fant’s blistering attack against opponent Ashley Moody.

Fant, a Republican state House member from Jacksonville, sent a letter to Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia — who, oh by the way, serves in the House with Fant — asking the party boss to ban Moody from the RPOF’s January meeting because she’s “a true liberal and proud of it.”

Moody, a former judge, has garnered a mile-high pile of endorsements from law enforcement leaders and others throughout the state and amassed a finance team that’s  a veritable GOP who’s who, including influential lobbyist Brian Ballard.

Fant, who’s’ trailing Moody in fundraising even after dumping $750,000 of his own money into his campaign, accuses Moody of having close ties to the Clinton family — her father was appointed by Bill Clinton to the federal bench. Moody once worked as a speechwriter for “left wing” former American Bar Association President Martha Barnett who is a “close ally” of Hillary Clinton,  Fant wrote to Ingoglia. And Moody even sued President Donald Trump (long before he moved into the White House) over a failed development project, Fant pointed out.

Fant says it’s “in the party’s best interest” to blackball Moody from the RPOF’s annual meeting in January.

“The 2018 election ballot is absolutely critical from top to bottom and we simply cannot waste time with candidates who have to hide their past involvement with the Clintons in order to win,” he wrote.

Fant’s asking that the party leadership “refuse Ashley Moody access to the annual meeting and immediately discontinue RPOF’s indirect support of her campaign” through in-kind resources like staff, “that already total more than $23,000,” according to campaign finance reports.

Moody and Fant will face off in the GOP primary against two other state reps — Frank White of Pensacola and Ross Spano of Dover.

We’ve reached out to Moody’s camp for a response, and we’ll update if we get one.



AG candidate cites recovery from alcoholism as a plus

torrensA history of alcohol or drug addiction can be an Achilles heel for candidates, especially those seeking to become the state’s top cop.

But Ryan Torrens, a Democrat running for attorney general, is outing himself as a person in recovery.

Torrens, 32, intends to address his recovery fro alcoholism Sunday morning on WFLA.

Torrens’s open discussion of his journey to sobriety — which he said in a press release included support from family, counseling, and “the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous” — might raise eyebrows for “friends of Bill,” as they’re known in AA circles.

But Torrens, a foreclosure lawyer who lives in Odessa, says his personal experiences with addiction would give him a unique perspective as attorney general while the state is grappling with an opioid epidemic.

He’s hoping his personal story will help others to come out of the shadows.

“Because I have personally experienced the challenges of addiction, I understand what our fellow Floridians are going through as they suffer with their addiction in secrecy,” Torrens said in an interview with The News Service Friday afternoon.

Read the Torrens press release after the jump. (more…)