By Jim Bleyer
Candidates for Tampa mayor have been so excruciatingly bland during the runup to the Mar. 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 Democrat 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 endorsemenrt 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 Byran Farris. You have all seen him demonstrate all the same hateful and abusive behavior you claim in 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, that 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.
As for the mayor’s race, Castor is openly gay and there is at least one other mayoral candidate that is gay but not openly so. Farris was careful to make the distinction in his diatribe against the two caucuses.
(It is widely viewed that visibility and collective action are the primary weapons in the LGBT arsenal against intolerance).
Farris closed his comments with the assertion that “neither of these groups (the two caucuses) have any real power outside of their own little echo chamber and will have little or no effect on the outcome of our city elections.”
Then he did a curious thing: threatening a local blogger with a slander lawsuit. He aimed the lame accusation at The Ybor City Stogie, a respected, progressive, local blog.
“I would remind Julio Rodriguez and Pilar (Sanchez-Robbins) that repeating slander is equally slanderous.” Farris wrote on a Facebook timeline referring to the Stogie’s brain trust.
Farris—along with several Tampa politicians and other operatives—might consult a knowledgeable attorney as to what constitutes slander/libel/defamation. For the next step, these thin-skinned, super-sensitive snowflakes may want to check in with a therapist for a hardening session. Coping skills are an essential adult virtue.
Tampa Bay Beat has heard this drumbeat from frazzled, would-be bullies before. Therefore, we are reprinting in its entirety Vaughn’s post about Farris:
“A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a person running for city council who had a history of being abusive and a bully.
This week after 13 hours of hard work, the DPCTB released our endorsements. We wrote a long explanation of the process, along with a message asking our members to support Democrats over Republicans while thanking all the applicants who didn’t earn our endorsement and wishing them good luck.
Immediately after we released our endorsements, the trolls came out.
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.
However, there is one person who defies the normal troll behavior. This person has been unbelievably abusive, hateful and is the biggest bully of them all. I have folders full of screen shots of him threatening people, being sexist, ageist and just downright nasty.
He is currently managing two city council campaigns and works on many others. He is the right-hand man of Alan Clendenin, the person who personally abused me at the DNC conference in 2016.
Everyone knows about Bryan’s abusive and bullying behavior, yet they make excuses for it. WHY???
The fact that two people running for city council not only allow this man to run their campaigns, but they also pay him to vomit this toxic defamation all over the internet is an outrage.
This is why people are turned off by politics. When you have a bunch of people that would rather bully, attack, lie and distract you with negativity about a group of people (volunteering their time to make a positive impact) instead of push the merits of their candidates, people tune out.
Shame on all you who are friends with Bryan Farris. Shame on all of you who hire Byran Farris. You have all seen him demonstrate all the same hateful and abusive behavior you claim in unacceptable from the Republicans, yet you allow it in the Democratic Party.
I am filing an official complaint against Bryan Farris as I should have done years ago.
This sort of behavior is unacceptable and we need to take a stand against it. This is one of the reasons we lose elections.
Bryan hasn’t taken the time to point out anything his candidates stand for; instead he puts all his energy into attacking the people who don’t support them.
Bryan Farris is pretty much the Donald Trump of Tampa’s Democratic Party.
There are also a handful of other people either working for campaigns or acting as surrogates who are demonstrating similar behavior. Knock it off. It’s only hurting your candidate. Why don’t you spend more time educating the public about how your candidate is going to help their lives and less time being an internet troll?
I didn’t sacrifice the last three years of my life in order to try and change things for the better only to be constantly verbally and emotionally abused by toxic narcissists who only care about amassing power for themselves and the old guard.
Good luck passing the issues you care about and defending the most vulnerable members of our society when you let people like this have power.
Allowing transactional, abusive, petty, manipulative, deceitful people who can’t muster up the smallest amount of mutual respect for their fellow Democrats have power is exactly what progressives are fighting against.
And yet progressives are the trouble makers, right?
I’m so tired of this…”