TAMPA—Walter Smith II is in a runoff election against Joe Citro for a citywide City Council seat that has become tinged with party politics.

That tinge has now been memorialized in campaign literature in what Smith said was a rookie mistake by a volunteer.

Citro, who finished first in the March 5 general election, is making his fourth try for a council seat. The first three attempts in 2007, 2011 and 2015 were when he was a registered Republican.

Citro is now a Democrat as is Smith. But, in practice, the officially non-partisan race has become a rallying point for some progressives, including former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, who have backed Smith.


So when a palm card from Smith’s campaign began appearing on door steps and into hands recently, it caused a stir.

The card includes language saying it was approved by Smith followed by “Democrat.”

Smith, 46, said his campaign didn’t notice the “design error” at first.

His campaign handed out the 100 or so palm cards before a political adviser caught the violation of Florida Statute 106.143 which states that nonpartisan candidates’ political advertisements can’t state party affiliation. The same statute prohibits nonpartisan campaigning based on party affiliation.

Smith said the mistake was made by a volunteer who designed and produced the palm card. He said his campaign has ordered a new batch without the party affiliation.

The existing cards with the party affiliation have been distributed, he said.

Smith isn’t a political novice. He ran unsuccessfully for a Tampa state House seat in 2016.

Citro said he hadn’t heard about the palm card. He didn’t have any immediate comment.

The Florida Election Commission has enforcement powers over violations like the one on Smith’s literature. The allows the commission to levy civil penalties up to $1,000.

A call to that office wasn’t returned Tuesday.

If elected, Smith would be the first African-American man to win a citywide council seat.

The election is April 23.

Source :

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