Pasco County House Race Taking an Ugly Turn
Around the State
Things are about to get ugly in Pasco County as Republican Bill Gunter and Democrat Amanda Murphy are battling in a special election on Oct. 15 for an open Florida House seat.
Gunter handily won the Republican primary on Tuesday and the Florida Democratic Party instantly went on the attack. Democrats are bashing Gunter for getting support outside of the district, insisting -- despite the fact this is the first time he has run for office -- that the Republican is a creature of Tallahassee, relying on GOP leaders like Richard Corcoran to ride into office.
Both candidates have been stung by recent revelations. Earlier this week, news broke that Raymond James, where Murphy worked, was forced by the SEC to return money to investors after improperly marketing investments. While Raymond James paid out $300 million as a result, $200,000 went to Murphy’s clients.
But Gunter has had some skeletons of his own tumble out of the closet. The Republican has faced questions about why he did not reveal crimes he committed as a juvenile in applications to teach in Pasco County schools. Gunter is also facing questions about heavy drug use in his past.
One interesting factor is longtime Republican legislator Mike Fasano who vacated the seat when he was named Pasco County tax collector. Fasano is stressing he doesn’t want to be involved in the race and he’s demanding both candidates not include his name in their campaign outreach efforts. While he’s burned many of his bridges with Republicans in Tallahassee, Fasano remains very popular in Pasco County and he could have some major influence in the race if he jumps off the fence. Even if he tries to stay out of it, Fasano could face questions as to why he is not doing much for the Republican candidate.
With both parties thinking they have a chance in this race, expect both sides to raise the attacks between now and the special election. Look for a nasty four weeks in Pasco County as this House race takes center stage in Florida politics.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.