Ruta Jouniari missteps show aimless, sure-to-lose campaign in HD 72

Ruta Jouniari questions

Ruta Jouniari is the second Democrat seeking the House District 72 seat vacated when Sarasota Republican Alex Miller abruptly resigned after less than a year in office.

But with a series of sloppy, rookie mistakes, it is becoming increasingly clear that Jouniari, a community activist, may not be ready to serve, suggesting she has little-to-no understanding of the process.

These actions show an aimless campaign that cannot win — for instance, her political committee website is currently down — as well as some things that could be considered a violation of state election law.

Journiari’s basic competency comes under question when campaign materials she features prominently — shirts and literature, among others — have no corresponding financial records of expenditures listed either in her political committee or campaign account.

Also, the campaign issued official electioneering communications to voters without the proper legal disclaimer — the “Paid for by X” part — required of all candidates.

On Nov. 2, Jouniari sent an email (poorly designed, at least from a visual standpoint) through the MailChimp distribution service that expressly advocates her campaign — titled “Ruta Jouniari Democrat for House District 72” — making it a political advertisement as defined in Section 106.011(15) of Florida Statutes Section 106.143(1).

Florida law requires all political advertisements paid for by a candidate to include one of the disclaimers listed in Florida Statutes section 106.143(1)(a)1 or 2.

Jouniari’s email does not include either of the approved disclaimers, a clear violation of the state’s campaign law.

Unquestionably, these gaffes are a function of a campaign failed to raise the cash — taking in less than $7,500 to date — necessary to mount a serious campaign against Republican James Buchanan, a Realtor who has boosted his coffers as the son of influential Congressman Vern Buchanan.

Further belying a political naiveté, Jouniari is quick to blast “establishment” support for fellow Democrat Margaret Good, a first-time candidate not tied to any major interest, party or otherwise.

All this goes to create a convincing portrayal: Ruta simply does not have her s**t together for winning the HD 72 race.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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