Politics & Policy

The Corner

An Odd Robocall in Florida

A super PAC ran what could be interpreted as a racially charged robocall attacking Mary Thomas, who lost a Republican primary earlier this week in Florida’s 2nd District.

Thomas is Indian-American. Her full name is Lathika Mary Thomas, but she goes by “Mary,” and was by that name on the ballot. The call, paid for by North Florida Neighbors PAC, refers to her as “Lathika Mary Thomas” four times over the course of a 30-second call and twice describes her as “different from Neal Dunn,” the candidate who ultimately defeated her in Tuesday’s primary:

The North Florida Neighbors with a truth alert about Lathika Mary Thomas: Her ads say she’s different from Neal Dunn. True. Lathika Mary Thomas is a career government bureaucrat who helped Charlie Crist with his climate change agenda. That’s not conservative. Lathika Mary Thomas has personally taken nearly $1 million from a shady D.C. special-interest group, the same group that attacked Donald Trump. Even worse, her political consultant husband has taken over $400,000 to smear Dr. Neal Dunn. That’s not conservative. Mary Thomas hasn’t been elected yet, and she’s already behaving like a Washington, D.C. insider. Charlie Crist and Lathika Mary Thomas — different from Neal Dunn, you, and me, and wrong for North Florida.

The charge that Thomas is “different” could be read, in light of the robocall’s insistence on using her birth name, as a racially coded play on a television ad her campaign ran, in which she says Neal Dunn “couldn’t be more different from you and me.”

North Florida Neighbors PAC backed Dunn and another candidate, Matt Gaetz, who won his primary in Florida’s 1st District. Asked about the robocall, Christine Johnson, a spokeswoman for the group, says there was nothing out of the ordinary about it:

Thomas has used the name Lathika in both her professional and personal correspondence. It is how she has signed official documents as an attorney under the Charlie Crist administration, and her financial disclosure as general counsel under the Florida Dept. of Elder [Affairs]. It is also how her husband, and campaign consultant John Konkus, personally lists her on his company website and on his LinkedIn page.

We reject any false accusation that we used a name other than what has been personally and professionally recognized by her.

Dunn narrowly edged out Thomas on Tuesday, winning 41 percent of the vote to her 39 percent.

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