Candidates for Tampa mayor have been so excruciatingly bland during the runup to the March 5 primary that the campaign has been dubbed “The Big Yawn” by locals.
Not to worry. The fervor expected to be epitomized by the seven mayoral hopefuls has shifted to their supporters. The sniping, which touched on what constitutes “progressive” gender preference, and defamation, all emanates from the Democratic playpen.
The latest dustup pits Jessica Vaughn, president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay, against Bryan Farris, a veteran political operative with a nebulous political philosophy. The war played out on social media.
Farris fired the first salvo terming the Progressive Caucus endorsement of City Councilman Harry Cohen for mayor and some city council candidates as “based on personal conjecture and reflect no real indication of a candidate’s support for either progressive or LGBT goals.”
Farris added that Vaughn’s group and the LGBT Caucus, which he also took issue with, added that both groups are “serving a steaming pile of horseshit!”
Vaughan blasted back, calling Farris’ political history in Hillsborough County as abusive, hateful, and bullying.
“Even though the DPCTB put in extra effort to handle our endorsements with great care, a bunch of lazy, toxic bullies decided to throw their usual tantrums because we didn’t choose who they are paid to support. Surprise, surprise.”
Vaughan said she possessed a plethora of Farris screen shots threatening people and exhibiting sexism. She said she will be filing a complaint against Farris but no one is sure with whom.
“Shame on all you who are friends with Bryan Farris. Shame on all of you who hire Bryan Farris. You have all seen him demonstrate all the same hateful and abusive behavior you claim is unacceptable from the Republicans, yet you allow it in the Democratic Party,” Vaughn lamented in a Facebook post. “Bryan Farris is pretty much the Donald Trump of Tampa’s Democratic Party.”
Let’s note, while ducking the brickbats, none of the seven candidates running for mayor are remotely progressive. Cohen, a term-limited city councilman, is a registered Democrat but sat on the council for eight years rubberstamping the program of Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a faux Democrat if ever there was one. Labeling Buckhorn “centrist” would move him to the left.
Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, who leads in private polling by a healthy margin, and billionaire David Straz were registered Republicans until they decided to run for mayor. Straz admitted to voting for Donald Trump.
Farris, who represents at least two city council candidates, emphasized the hypocrisy in both caucuses for betraying the LGBT cause. He pointed out that neither caucus supported the only “openly gay candidate” in one of the city council districts.
Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.