The Florida Squeeze has been extensively covering this year’s Tallahassee local elections, where a people-powered movement for reform is being met by a backlash from hard right developer and special interest forces taking their intervention in elections to unprecedented heights.
But with an extreme hate group playing aggressively in several campaigns, the stakes are now higher than ever in 2022.
Grow Tallahassee’s political leader Bugra Demirel recently went on a binge of erratic, hateful Tweets including — bizarrely — denial of the Armenian genocide, discussed at length by best-selling author and screenwriter Jeff VanderMeer.
No representative of the group, nor any of the candidates touting their endorsement have distanced themselves from the hateful outburst. This can only indicate tacit agreement.
Mayor John Dailey, enthusiastically endorsed by Grow Tallahassee, has a long pattern of failing to speak out against dangerous right-wing activity in the community he supposedly leads, from Proud Boys organizing in the streets minutes from the Capitol, to new revelations about Tallahassee Police Department officers receiving aggressive “warrior mindset”-inspired training from a war criminal granted clemency by Donald Trump.
Commission candidate David Bellamy’s out-of-touch bona fides are already well established. He defended giving some $30,000 to right-wing politicians like Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz and state abortion ban sponsor Republican Sen. Kelli Stargell. He also remarked on the record that he “could not bring himself” to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping to enable Trump’s victory in our crucial swing state.
Bellamy’s Scott Maddox-aligned campaign is cynically attacking Matlow as a racist hypocrite, attacks that were given one of the best debunking, smack-down treatments we have ever witnessed earlier this week by three eminent former elected officials in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Dianne Williams-Cox has been on the attack in recent days against Commissioners Matlow and Jack Porter for endorsing her opponent Adner Marcelin, a promising young candidate you’ll hear more about soon.
But in view of Williams-Cox’s record as a rubber stamp for all of Grow Tallahassee’s positions — and even voting No on a City resolution affirming a woman’s right to choose just months before the U.S. Supreme Court tragically overturned Roe — who could blame them?
Despite some occasional nods towards “progressive planning,” Grow Tallahassee is dedicated to waging war on Tallahassee’s neighborhoods, taking the City to court to force zoning changes overwhelmingly opposed by local residents — in one case, to benefit Bellamy’s business, Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic. (Bellamy’s company profited from a questionable land deal that saw Leon County-owned land granted to TOC for medical offices, then sold for undisclosed commercial development at a $1.2 million profit underwritten by the taxpayers.)
Grow Tallahassee’s political committee is largely funded by Ron DeSantis appointees to the FSU Board of Trustees — the main beneficiary of the shameful $27 million taxpayer giveaway to Doak Campbell stadium improvements — and “school choice” figurehead John Kirtley, a leading pioneer of public school privatization in Florida.
Just this morning, fraudulent text messages went out attacking Commissioners Dozier and Matlow — both proudly endorsed by the Florida Squeeze — as involved with “dark money” through a sketchy advocacy effort with no disclosure listed, a classic dirty move straight out of the playbook of Republican henchmen. It links to an article in Tallahassee Reports, a government-funded Republican blog obsessed with LGBTQ+ teenagers and State Rep. Anna Eskamani.
With Mayor Dailey saying he wants a “full City Charter revision commission” to overhaul the city government following this year’s elections, Tallahassee cannot afford to take a risk on any of Grow Tallahassee’s endorsed candidates.
To restore decency and common sense, voters must reject the “Slate of Hate” and send a clear message to the extremist developer class — they will not succeed in their radical attempt to buy back their influence in Tallahassee.