Democrat Tracey Kagan has been in the House District 29 race only a few days and already political blood is spilling between her and incumbent Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon.
On Monday Plakon, of Longwood, was hit by an ethics complaint regarding his business holdings. a complaint which was filed by the Washington D.C.-based group Campaign for Accountability.
He responded by calling the complaint bogus, speculating that it was tied to Kagan, accusing her of working with a “radical left-wing, pro-abortion” group, and charging that Democratic liberal activist billionaire George Soros is behind it all.
Kagan, who is Jewish, responded by charging that Plakon is using anti-Semitic code language by blaming Soros, who, among other things, has been a favorite target of strong anti-Semitic hate speech for a long time. She also accused him of trying to smear her for no reason.
Plakon responded to that by charging Kagan with playing dirty politics.
Kagan, also of Longwood, then insisted she doesn’t play dirty politics but was just calling him out for for what she sees as an inappropriate and unnecessary statement.
Welcome to the rematch of the 2018 HD 28 campaign, which had been a pretty timid affair. Plakon won that one 51-49, capturing a third term in the district covering central Seminole County. Kagan, emboldened by her close loss, filed last Friday to try again.
Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit, liberal watchdog group, started the bloodletting Monday by filing a compliant with the Florida Ethics Commission. It charged that Plakon’s financial disclosures have never properly disclosed all his Nationwide Publishing Co.’s real estate and other business holdings. Plakon denied that his disclosures have been improper in any way, and is planning to fight the allegations.
But then he declared that complaint is not only unfounded but “politically motivated.”
“It is no coincidence that mere days after a Democrat challenger filed against me, a far-left liberal group has filed a bogus complaint,” Plakon said in a statement sent to Florida Politics.
In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel Monday, he went much further. He charged that the group, which does not disclose its sources of income, is a front for Soros, and, “If she wants to work with these radical left-wing, pro-abortion, Soros-backed groups directly from the DC swamp, she can. I’m going to just keep focusing on serving my constituents here in Seminole County and focusing on the issues that they care about.”
Kagan, who denies having any association with the group or its complaint against Plakon, heard a dog whistle in Plakon’s statement. She called out Plakon for trying to link her to Soros, an association which she noted the Anti-Defamation League has called “a well-worn, anti-Semitic trope.”
“As a Jewish American, I am deeply offended by Scott Plakon’s anti-Semitic claim that I am working with ‘Soros-backed groups.’ The conspiracy theory peddled by right-wing ideologues such as Mr. Plakon that Soros manipulates elections is one of the most pernicious anti-Semitic myths in our current culture,” Kagan stated in a news release issued by her campaign.
“Not only is his accusation anti-Semitic, but it’s also false. Unlike Scott Plakon, the vast majority of my 2018 fundraising came from small, grassroots donors,” she added. “The fact that he is now being investigated for financial ethics violations is deeply concerning, especially for the people of District 29 whom he was elected to represent with integrity. The fact that he is attempting to distract from the investigation by deploying anti-Semitic tropes is flat-out offensive and dangerous.”
Then there was that pro-abortion issue drop.
“I also want to address Mr. Plakon’s claim that I am ‘pro-abortion.’ As a mother of three daughters, I support women’s health care choices,” Kagan stated. “I am tired of Republicans like Mr. Plakon building a platform on ‘family values’ while selling lies to voters about anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. Voters can see through the hypocrisy and desperation.”
Plakon insisted that he in no way implied anything anti-Semitic when he mentioned Soros. Beyond that, he charged, “This is dirty politics at its worst. The people in my district are interested in good jobs and good schools; and in ensuring that our community continues to prosper. These made-up, deeply offensive, totally false attacks have absolutely zero connection to my record and are even less connected to reality as we know it.”
Finally, Kagan said she is bothered that Plakon would accuse her of dirty politics, since, she said, he started it.
“I’m not the one who initiated this. I don’t play dirty politics. I run a clean campaign. It bothers me,” she said. “I’m standing for a platform of listening to the people to serve their interests, and I find him to be out of touch. That’s why I’m running.”
The battle also brought a response from Republican state Rep. Randy Fine of Brevard County, who charged Kagan for playing the anti-Semitism card much too fast and loose, overlooking that there are legitimate reasons for Plakon to dislike Soros and his politics. Fine, who also is Jewish, and Kagan jousted over the matter on twitter Tuesday. Fine tweeted he is “repulsed by her bigotry,” and that she owes every Jew an apology for reducing Soros to just his Jewishness. Kagan tweeted back, “#Soros conspiracy theories are dangerous and should be called out and condemned. Every. Time.”
The HD 29 contest now is four days old. The election now is 365 days away.