The Hillsborough County Republican Party shared a flyer via email promoting a Charles Brian Boswell candidate meet and greet complete with links to donate to Boswell’s campaign.
Boswell is running for Hillsborough County Sheriff in the Republican primary against incumbent Chad Chronister.
While the email appears to be an endorsement, Hillsborough GOP chair Jim Waurishuk said the local party is not endorsing a candidate in the primary.
Instead, the email is another example of the extraordinary measures taken to reshape campaigning during a global pandemic.
“We offered to share flyers for all Republican candidates even when there’s more than one Republican in the race,” Waurishuk said.
Candidates are facing major campaign challenges due to social distancing recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving candidates with limited opportunities for voter engagement.
Waurishuk said sharing candidate flyers helps them reach more voters by tapping into the party’s robust mailing list. It’s a courtesy they’re extending to all Republican candidates.
In this case, Chronister has access to the same benefit, but might not be taking advantage of it.
“If one candidate gives us one and another gives us none, just remember this is your opportunity to get tens of thousands of emails to the voters of Hillsborough County,” he said.
Chronister was in briefings and not immediately available for comment.
Republican consultant Anthony Pedicini refutes Waurishuk’s contention.
“That’s a revelation because no one has contacted any candidates that I know of to let them know that is an option,” Pedicini said.
The local party has not endorsed a candidate in the race and will not, Waurishuk said.
The shared flyer, which includes disclaimers from Boswell’s campaign, includes a link to contribute to Boswell’s campaign as well as a notice for a Saturday meet and greet at P.C. Motors located at 310 N. Collinns St. in Plant City. The flyer doesn’t list any planned precautions for COVID-19 nor does it include a disclaimer that the email does not represent an endorsement.
It also does not say the email is not an endorsement.
The Sheriff’s race could become a heated battle between the two Republicans. Boswell is currently suing the Sheriff’s Office, including Chronister, over claims that he was retaliated against for refusing to falsify how witness testimony was obtained, among other complaints.
Boswell was forced out of the Sheriff’s office after being demoted and having three allegations against him sustained including conduct unbecoming and unprofessionalism.
The disparity between the two candidates’ accounts are setting up a negative back and forth campaign with each side arguing the other is corrupt.
Boswell’s case in federal court is still pending.