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Conservative committee sends ‘sexist’ Amanda Murphy attack mailer

The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee this week sent out a demeaning attack ad against Democrat Amanda Murphy, who faces Ed Hooper for Senate District 16 in north Pinellas.

On one side is the image of a young girl wearing a larger than life bow on her head while crying. Next to her, it says, “career politician Amanda Murphy behaves like a spoiled child.”

On the other side is a claim: “Amanda Murphy throws a fit when she doesn’t get her way … because Amanda Murphy is good at making a spectacle, but fails when it comes to making a difference.”

The mailpiece does not make any specific reference to “fits” she has thrown or offered any action to back up the assertion she behaves like a “spoiled child.”

In the era of “#MeToo,” the ad might appear to some as tone deaf.

“Ed Hooper’s shameless sexist appeal for votes is as insulting as it is inaccurate. Amanda Murphy is a consummate professional and a distinguished leader in our community,” said Pinellas County Democratic Party Chair Susan McGrath. “This is an outrageous insult and personal attack on a professional woman who served with distinction.”

Murphy is running against Hooper to replace Jack Latvala who resigned his post last November amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The mailer does make several claims against Murphy, including that she supports $1 billion in new taxes for Florida families as well as pay raises for politicians.

The flyer also says Murphy “opposed teacher pay raises,” “voted for less money in public schools” and “zero funding for red tide research.”

It also cites bills from 2015 when Murphy served in the Florida House. All three were comprehensive appropriations bills. Two included funding for multiple government services and entities including education.

The third was an education appropriations bill.

Murphy voted against an appropriations bill that included education spending contingent on the passage of Senate Bill 616 in 2015, which was not approved. It pertained to implementation of the controversial Common Core testing standards now used in Florida public schools.

In opposing that bill, Murphy voted in line with other Democrats.

One of Murphy’s campaign platforms includes fully funding public schools by reducing wasteful spending on pet projects, not by raising taxes.

However, Murphy did vote in favor of an appropriations bill that included $650,000 for red tide research.

Hooper’s campaign did not pay for the mailer.

“I’ve given up on controlling these mail pieces,” Hooper said. “I never see them and I don’t approve them and they don’t send them to my house.”

Asked whether he would condemn the use of a seemingly sexist attack using a crying girl as a visual, Hooper responded that he couldn’t condemn or not condemn something he had not seen.

Florida Politics shared photos of the mailer with Hooper and is awaiting further comment.

The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also didn’t respond to a request for comment and clarification on the charges leveled by the mail piece.

Any comment from Murphy’s campaign is pending.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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