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4th Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey's write-in "opponent" is being challenged in court

Jax

Why did Angela Corey’s campaign manager file her write-in opponent’s campaign paperwork?

On Monday afternoon, Fourth Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey opened her campaign office, contrasting her commitment to “positive energy” with the “lies and misinformation” she expects from her opponents.

“I plan to run this campaign with positive energy,” said Corey, and to “continue to rebut the lies and misinformation” from her political opponents.

“I will not … I will not,” Corey emphasized, “apologize for doing what I promised to do in 2008.”

After extolling the performance of her office over the last eight years, Corey again revisited the earlier theme.

“There’s going to be a lot of negative [messaging] coming our way,” Corey said to the dozens of supporters on hand.

“You need to tell people ‘don’t listen.’ There’s not a thing they can throw at us that we can’t say is legal, moral, and ethical.”

Note that last turn of phrase.

Opponents have already contended there has been one questionable tactic by Team Corey in the current campaign, via the suspicious enlistment of “men only” divorce lawyer Kenny Leigh to run as a write-in, filing just hours after Corey’s second Republican opponent, Melissa Nelson, filed.

“Angela Corey disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters of color by putting up a write-in candidate for State Attorney and closing the primary. It was the handiwork of Ms. Corey’s political consultant Matt Justice, with the help of his divorce lawyer friend Kenny Leigh,” claimed Corey’s other Republican opponent, Wes White.

Leigh describes himself as a “big supporter” of the incumbent he is running against, and contributed to Corey’s campaign in 2008. Justice, meanwhile, had run Leigh’s campaign for the school board in Clay County earlier this decade.

A narrative persisted since Leigh’s filing that Corey’s campaign manager, Alexander Pantinakis, filed Leigh’s paperwork in Tallahassee.

FloridaPolitics.com had, for days, attempted to get a “yes or no” answer from Pantinakis regarding that claim.

And he played coy when asked Monday about his role in filing for Leigh’s candidacy.

“You’ll have to ask Kenny Leigh how his paperwork was filed,” Pantinakis said, offering versions of the same statement when asked other matters relating to the claim.

After talking with reporters Thursday evening, Leigh did not return repeated calls from FloridaPolitics.com to clarify the narrative.

Corey, likewise, claimed to have no knowledge of the charge.

“It wouldn’t have been my operation,” Corey said. “They would have been on their own.”

But later Monday evening, after conferring with Corey, Pantinakis changed his narrative.

“I received and submitted Kenny Leigh’s documents on Thursday, May 5th solely in my capacity as the Duval County Republican State Committeeman,” Pantinakis wrote in a prepared statement. “Throughout my time as State Committeeman, I have always been a proponent of ensuring that only registered Republicans select Republican nominees for office and would question any Republican candidate who would reject that idea.”

Will Republican voters hold Corey’s campaign accountable for “lies and misinformation,” rendered on the same evening as a speech decrying lies and misinformation?

Are Republican voters to accept a functional difference between Pantinakis as campaign manager and Pantinakis as state committeeman?

And, finally, could this possibly have been the news item Angela Corey’s campaign wanted to emerge from its campaign headquarters opening?

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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