Brian Hodgers‘ plan was simple and straightforward: infiltrate Brevard County by establishing “residency” there, set up a campaign operation, then steamroll any opposition on his way to becoming a state representative in District 52.
As a resident of Sunrise, Florida, some two-and-a-half hours south, a key component of his game plan was finding a place to live in Brevard County. So he bought a quarter-million dollar condo not far from the beach, just a stone’s throw from Tire Kingdom, and right across the street from the Ocean View RV and Mobile Home Court.
With the residency issue seemingly out of the way, he set to work raising money. The campaign contributions flowed in from all over the state, mostly from insurance companies, real estate companies and developers. To date, his campaign has collected over $400,000 in contributions (albeit a large chunk of that came in the form of a $200,000 loan from Hodgers himself), far outpacing his opponents, Thad Altman, Robert VanVolkenburgh, and Monique Miller.
There’s been scant public polling on the race, but from a purely financial perspective, Hodgers had clearly established himself in the driver’s seat.
But late last week, something went terribly, horribly wrong.
In Brevard County, earned media is tough to come by. There is Florida Today, a print / electronic media outlet, and then there is WMMB Talk Radio, home of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative stalwarts. But before that national lineup begins each day, Bill Mick‘s local, morning drive time radio show dominates the airwaves.
And starting yesterday (Tuesday) morning, Bill Mick dedicated a full hour of his show toward exposing Brian Hodgers as – and I quote – “the carpetbagger of all carpetbaggers,” who is trying to buy the election.
“He comes here from Broward county, and tries to convince us that he’s a Brevard resident,” Mick said, kicking off his show. “And that he’s been invested in this community for some time, that he is part of this community, and that he wants to represent…us.”
The drubbing continued all throughout the 7a.m. hour. And Mick gave Hodgers no quarter, calling the segment “Schooling Brian Hodgers: Day One,” implying that the roasting was only the beginning and that it might continue every single day through next Tuesday’s primary.
“Interesting that Mr. Hodgers might be the only candidate who can actually make me wish for a Thad Altman nomination. Given if they were the only two, Altman would be the better choice. Not the case though, there are others in the race.”
One of the “others” Mick spoke of is Monique Miller, whom he endorsed last week after interviewing all four Republican candidates on the air.
It was that endorsement of Monique Miller that led to a series of Facebook posts, and ultimately, to paper trail of documents exposing Hodgers’ residency problems.
On August 21st, Hodgers’ longtime girlfriend, Debbie Colangelo, posted on Facebook attacking Mick for supporting Miller.
“Bill, you’re such a hypocrite. You just raked Paterakis about him renting a place so he can say he lives in the district he’s running in – meanwhile, the candidate you tout for the District 52 house race is doing the EXACT SAME THING,” she wrote.
Colangelo was referring to the fact that Miller rents an apartment inside the district, while also owning a second home just outside the district. What Colangelo doesn’t mention is that, unlike Brian Hodgers, Monique Miller has been a Brevard County resident for decades.
Unfortunately for Hodgers, Colangelo didn’t stop there. She posted again, this time using a different Facebook account under the same name, calling Mick “pathetic.”
By then, the damage was done. She’d gotten Mick’s attention, certainly, but she also got the attention of Mick’s fans, who immediately set to work digging into Colangelo’s Facebook account, which one person gleefully pointed out that her profile says she “Lives in Fort Lauderdale,” i.e., Broward County, just like Hodgers.
When Mick took to the airwaves Tuesday morning, a caller also pointed out Hodgers’ recently filed paperwork with the state of Florida that listed his residence as “Sunrise, Florida,” in Broward County, far to the south.
And since then, more state paperwork undermining Hodgers’ residency claims has continued to surface, including a document filed this year that lists him as a Broward County Republican Executive committee member. The document gives his home address in Sunrise, Florida.
Then there’s the state website which lists Hodgers as the active president of the Sawgrass Mills Homeowners Association (also in Broward County) and again lists his home address in Sunrise, Florida.
Still not satisfied? Here’s an April 6th, 2016 filing with the state of Florida certifying Hodgers’ address, once again, as Sunrise, Florida.
In fact, Hodgers may have bought a condo in Brevard county back in 2014, but that’s the exact same year he became President of his local homeowner’s association in Broward County.
Today, Bill Mick will be back on the air. Almost certainly, he’ll have more to say about Brian Hodgers and his residency claims. And while Hodgers himself may be leading in the money race for HD52, this is definitely not the way he wanted to close out his primary run.