A Democratic candidate for a seat in the state house is accusing his opponent’s political party of threatening him not to run.
Ben Farrell said that someone from Rep. Ed Hooper’s camp came to his brother offering him hundreds of dollars to keep him from running during the Florida State House and Senate Candidate Forum held last Thursday at the Suncoast Hospice Community Service Center and moderated by the League of Women Voters of North Pinellas.
Hooper, a Republican, has held the District 67 seat since 2006. Since redistricting, the area covers parts of Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park.
After the accusation was made, Hooper, seated next to Farrell on the dais, said with a smile:
“I have not offered him any money,” Hooper said standing while turned to Farrell. “I’m not going to donate to your campaign.”
The crowd laughed, as did Farrell.
Hooper continued to say that the next five weeks will be telling for the campaigns and the candidates. Hooper said during that time his campaign is working to educate voters on his and Farrell's qualifications.
“Personal attacks are going to start now,” Farrell said after the forum. “Of course (Hooper) didn’t offer any money,” he said. “A guy did.”
Already Farrell, whose family owns Lenny's Restaurant, said a customer came in telling him of a robocall from Hooper’s campaign asking if he would vote for Farrell if he knew he had a foreclosure.
Farrell said he did not go through foreclosure, but wonders how that message in a state with such a high rate of mortgage issues would resonate with voters. Farrell said his ex-wife went through bankruptcy and a foreclosure process, not him.
Farrell is running for a seat in the state house on issues including education, environmental protection and small business.
Hooper is a six-year veteran of the house looking for his final term. He served on Clearwater’s city council before being elected for a seat in Tallahassee in 2006.