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Jennifer Webb a ‘sell out,’ attack mailer charges

Two more attack pieces landed in voters’ mailboxes this weekend rallying opposition for Jennifer Webb. Webb is running against Republican Ray Blacklidge for the House District 69 seat currently occupied by Kathleen Peters.

One of the ads shows a giant spider web with the words “sell out” woven into it. The header reads “Wilbur is disappointed by this message in Jennifer’s Webb,” in a nod to the childhood classic “Charlotte’s Webb.”

The other side of the mail piece, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, shows a cartoon pig with the caption, “looks like more politics as usual, Charlotte” and cautions voters not to “get caught in Jennifer’s Webb.”

It’s not the first time conservative groups have used Webb’s last name to evoke images of a spider Webb. Both mail pieces with that theme included similar messages – that Webb was amassing campaign contributions from special interests.

In the latest hit on Webb’s donors, the Republican Party claims “key insider allies” tried to stop teacher merit pay and property tax relief. The mail piece sites the Progressive Caucus of Florida caucus platform.

That group opposed a bill that since was signed into law that ties teacher pay to performance. Most of Florida’s teachers and teacher unions opposed the measure because it relied heavily on standardized testing results.

The Progressive Caucus of Florida also opposed the Homestead Exemption measure to increase the amount property owners can deduct on their annual property taxes. Florida cities and counties oppose the measure because it would cost millions in local budgets, which critics argue would end up falling on the backs of lower income renters as municipalities raised utility fees to absorb the loss.

The mailer also claims those “insider allies” are pushing for mandatory wages for criminals in prison. The progressive caucus wants prisoners participating in work programs to earn minimum wage for their labor. Currently inmates earn a pittance for work ranging from janitorial services to electric work.

Another mail piece shows an image of two pre-teen boys gazing longingly at a giant piece of cake.

“The radical, job-killing agenda of a key ally of Jennifer Webb really takes the cake,” it reads.

On the other side the header shows the common phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” with the two boys now devouring the slice.

Its claims are similar to the Charlotte’s Webb-themed flyer about Webb’s campaign contributions from the Progressive Caucus of Florida.

Its claims include eliminating controls on immigration and opening U.S. borders, which the flyer claims would put Florida jobs at risk.

It also references a “massive unfunded mandatory wage” increase. The caucus supports a mandatory $15 minimum wage most conservatives oppose.

The flyer also claims Webb would support a “complete takeover of healthcare by the federal government.”

The Progressive Caucus supports single payer healthcare, which would provide healthcare for all. Conservatives worry such a move would degrade existing private healthcare options and force people who have current policies to move into lower-quality government run programs. Democrats and progressive deny that would be the case.

“We can’t trust Jennifer Webb or her radical friends to protect our consumers and small businesses,” the piece reads.

Webb has been polling ahead of Blacklidge in the race for the seat that encompasses mid-Pinellas including Seminole, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach.

Blacklidge’s campaign has shied away from negative campaigning and, in a Facebook post, said such attacks are unnecessary. But he’s stopped short of calling on outside groups to stop sending negative ads.

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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