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Florida Democrat Party mailers for Stephanie Murphy irk John Mica

The Florida Democratic Party is snowing mailers into Florida’s 7th Congressional District supporting challenger Stephanie Murphy and attacking Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica, who slammed the campaign Tuesday as “distortions.”

In the past week or so, four FDP mailers have gone out, including two that attacked Mica for a deal involving an old federal post office in Washington, a building which Mica got spun off, and then Donald Trump leased and turned into his newest luxury hotel, opening last month. The mailers make Mica look like Trump’s benefactor, biggest supporter, and best friend. Another mailer ties Mica to the gun lobby. A fourth is strictly positive, a biographical communication about Murphy with a title sounding like a best-selling novel, “The girl rescued at sea.”

Those mailers have joined a $4 million TV commercial barrage in Orlando by two national Democratic groups, which began a couple of weeks ago and is scheduled to air through Election Day, Nov. 8. They have Mica, a 12-term congressman who’s never experienced a serious challenge, all but exasperated, particularly because the attack money is flowing through Washington D.C. and Tallahassee, not through Murphy’s official campaign.

“Right now I’m getting hit by a political storm of negative advertising,” Mica said.

The Florida Democratic Party did not respond to requests to talk about the mail campaign. The party’s investment in Murphy’s drive to win election, or to oppose Mica, has not yet been publicly disclosed.

Democrats have openly targeted CD 7 as one they believe they can win, and Murphy’s campaign has not only been supported by money but by a parade of national party officials coming to Central Florida to campaign with her. On Monday she was given the honor of introducing Vice President Joe Biden at an Orlando speech supporting the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

The 2015 redistricting made the district, covering Seminole County and north-central and northeast Orange County, far more balanced between Republicans and Democrats. And Democrats believe Mica can be portrayed as out of touch with the younger, more diverse constituency.

Mica, whose own campaign had about $790,000 in the most recent campaign finance disclosures, said he has never seen anything like the onslaught of national and statewide campaigning against him, and conceded he cannot compete financially.

“The DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,] the [House] Majority Fund from [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi, and the state party, this is absolutely unprecedented, at least in Central Florida, and I don’t remember anything like it around the state,” Mica said. “They’re very determined and very coordinated.”

Mica said he will begin countering Wednesday with his first radio and TV ads, but said, “I do not have the funds to compete on the level at which they’re playing, which is a $4 million attack. You cannot respond to everything. I’ve decided to go positive; everything about it is positive. We’re going to try to keep up that as long as possible, starting tomorrow on radio and television.”

He also took issue with the issues the Democrats are raising. With the post office, Mica has long talked about that as one of his great achievements as a member of Congress. As a key member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mica crusaded for several years, starting in 2010, to get the federal government to sell or lease away vacant or nearly vacant federal buildings. The old, 400,000-square-foot Washington post office, built in the early 20th century, was one of them.

The first FDP mailer featured cartoons of Trump and Mica chumming around in front of the new Trump International Hotel, and is headlined, “Donald Trump & John Mica … the Dangerously Divisive Duo.” Inside it asserts both Trump and Mica want to defund Planned Parenthood and oppose banning suspected terrorists from purchasing guns, and declares, “John Mica: Trump’s biggest supporter in Florida.” The second mailer also features a cartoon of Mica and Trump and a picture of the new hotel, and declares, “They came together to build a Trump hotel in D.C. They stuck together because they share the same values.”

“They’re trying to turn something that is very favorable to unfavorable for me, and also for Trump,” Mica said.

Mica said Trump got the development lease through a competitive process run by the U.S. General Services Administration. Mica said he had no influence whatsoever in that decision, though he is glad with how it turned out. He said the property went from costing the federal government $6 million a year in upkeep, to potentially generating $6 million a year in rent.

Mica denied having any kind of relationship with Trump, and offered no explicit support for the Republican presidential nominee, except to say that he always vowed to support the Republican nominee regardless of who it is. He said he agreed with some of Trump’s views, but not all.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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