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Mary Barzee Flores turns backlash hate talk into fundraising

Democratic congressional candidate Mary Barzee Flores‘ strong statements about Nazis, white supremacists, President Donald Trump, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought in ugly responses Wednesday filled with profanity and wishes that she would die.

And that, her campaign is quickly turning into a fundraising pitch.

The former circuit court judge and federal public defender from Miami is running in Florida’s Congressional District 27, seeking to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who’s retiring.

In messages sent out mainly through social media earlier this week and Wednesday, Flores denounced Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists, and challenged Trump to take numerous actions to oppose racial violence, but lamented, “This president has failed nearly every test of leadership thrown his way, time and again.” Of Sessions, she wrote, “We wish he’d stay out of Florida. Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration don’t represent the values of this community. We wish he’d stay out of D.C. and the Federal Government too.”

Then came the backlash, which her campaign reports includes “vicious, violent, racist and sexist Alt-right trolls … attacking Mary for speaking up.” Most of the comments the campaign quoted were filled with “****” where the profanities presumably appeared, such as, “MARY FLORES–EAT **** AND DIE–TODAY” and “U can go and **** U self!!”

And so comes the fundraising letter sent out Wednesday afternoon.

She’s in a crowded field with fellow Democrats state Representative David Richardson, state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, and Miami DEC member Michael Hepburn; and Republican Dr. Maria Peiro.

“I showed these vile comments to Mary and this is what she told me: “We have a First Amendment. They can say whatever they want about me and I’ll keep saying what I believe. At least they got my name right,” Flores’ campaign manager Sam Miller wrote in the fundraising letter.

“Mary is tough as nails. After a dozen years as a public defender and eight years sitting on the bench hearing criminal cases, anonymous trolls on the internet don’t faze her one bit,” Miller added. “Mary’s not going to back down, and neither can we.”

 

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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