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