Representative Debbie Mayfield is drawing fire for a misleading mailer attacking her political opponent, Ritch Workman, for sponsoring a controversial alimony reform bill. What the mailer doesn’t say is that Mayfield herself also supported the bill with Workman, voting YES on HB 549 during the 2012 legislative session. The blatant dishonesty of the mail piece was enough to draw a response from the normally reserved Speaker of the Florida House.
“I think that it is very unfortunate that Representative Mayfield would mislead the voters of the district in which she hopes to represent by condemning the bill of her opponent, while having cast a vote in favor for that very same bill,” said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. “A bill that in fact passed with a super-majority vote of the members of the House.”
In mailboxes across Senate District 17 this week, voters have received oversized postcards attacking Workman for co-sponsoring HB 549 (2012), better known as the alimony bill (a revised version was passed this year, but later vetoed by Governor Rick Scott). Without citing Mayfield’s own vote in favor of the bill, the mailer says the proposal “cuts alimony payments to single mothers,” and included two grainy, black-and-white photographs of Workman plastered on opposite sides. The disclaimer at the bottom says the mail piece was paid for by Stop Career Politicians, a political committee with deep ties to Mayfield’s own campaign, which is actively supporting her. The group also posted images of the mailer on Twitter (see image).
Erin Isaac, spokeswoman for Stop Career Politicians, defended the mailer.
“Ritch Workman’s push to cut alimony to single mothers just eight days after finalizing his own divorce lands at number 29 on the #WorkmanDirty30 because it really is one of the more egregious examples of Workman exploiting his power for his personal gain. Few members of the legislature so brazenly use this process to change the rules for their own benefit as Ritch Workman.”
But State Senator Kelli Stargel, herself a sponsor of the same bill in the Florida Senate, torched the allegations made by Mayfield’s PAC.
“I have served with both individuals running for this senate seat and I am not taking sides,” Stargel began. “However, as the Senate sponsor of the bill, I can say this ad is incorrect and irresponsible. The bill did not do the things the ad suggests. This bill was passed by a super majority in the House and the Senate and Representative Mayfield voted for it. As a woman, I can attest the bill treated all people equally with much needed common sense solutions. The genesis of this bill was not motivated by the personal life of Representative Workman.”
Other political observers were far less restrained.
“Debbie Mayfield is running the dirtiest, most dishonest campaign I’ve ever seen,” said one Tallahassee lobbyist who is supporting Workman and closely watching the race. “And believe me, I’ve seen some disgusting campaign tactics over the years.”
With less than four weeks remaining until the August 30th primary, Republican voters in the district will see and hear a lot more from both campaigns.
Photo credit: Mark Foley, Florida House of Representatives