JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While it’s not uncommon for negative campaign ads to flood the airwaves in high-profile races like president, members of Congress, governor or mayor, attack ads are showing up this year in one of the few local races on the ballots of Jacksonville voters: Duval County clerk of court.
The race pits current chief operating officer of the clerk’s office, Jody Phillips, against Jacksonville attorney Jimmy Midyette.
VOTER’S GUIDE: What both candidates say about their backgrounds, the issues
Midyette has been an outspoken advocate locally for the LGBTQ community on a variety of issues. Phillips' has a campaign commercial out hitting Midyette on many issues.
“Jimmy Midyette works for a radical agenda: defunding our police and decriminalizing possession of child pornography. Midyette has supported wife beaters, child abusers, and tried to force taxpayers to pay for transgender surgery,” according to the TV spot.
Midyette has also put out an ad that goes after Phillips, claiming he has ties to people involved in the ongoing scandal over trying to sell the JEA -- a controversy that has rocked both the utility and City Hall.
“Jody Phillips is a bad judge of character. People under criminal investigation surround him -- the guys who tried to steal the JEA: Tim Baker, Sam Mousa and Brian Hughes. Now Jody Phillips is tied to Eric Robinson, Florida’s prince of dark money,” the TV commercial says.
News4Jax asked both campaigns about the tone of the race.
“It’s just a distortion of everything I’ve done in public life for 20 years. It’s exactly what I expected," Midyette said in an interview Tuesday. "I expected early in the campaign that I expected this because I knew who the consultants were that were running Jody Phillips. I said, ‘Bring it on,’ so they did.”
A campaign Phillips' campaign said he was not available for an interview Tuesday or Wednesday, but did offer this statement: “We don’t have any interest in getting into a back-and-forth with Midyette. Our ad is factual and sourced. He may not like it, but we have sources. His ad has no sourcing and no basis in reality. Frankly, pretty despicable and unprecedented for him to attack private citizens in his advertising.”
The winner of the race will take over for outgoing Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell, who cannot seek re-election after eight years in office.