Political mailer criticizes female candidate for being “unmarried”

Tampa, FL has a mayoral election coming up next week. Recently, a mailer attacking Republican candidate Rose Ferlita was sent out to voters. Here’s what the mailer looks like, courtesy of Saint Petersblog:

Front of mailer reads A closer look at Rose Ferlita and she just withers away. Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable. Shows a dead rose and photo of Ferlita
Back of mailer repeats Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable. with explanations.

Like so many mailers going out this soon before an election, it’s pretty mean spirited. Ferlita is compared to a wilted rose — in other words, an old woman who’s lost her beauty, clearly an important political qualifier. (Plus, oh-so-clever word play.) It calls her unelectable because of her, “notoriously difficult temperament.” But far and away the worst thing about this mailer is bullet point one of it’s three main points: Ferlita is “unmarried”:

Rose Ferlita has put her political ambition first and foremost, while her opponent is a dedicated family man with two children — Ferlita is an unmarried woman with a suspect commitment to family values.

You might think putting your political career first would be a positive thing for someone running for elected office. But no, Ferlita hasn’t fulfilled that most important role for a woman: getting married and making babies. I agree with Saint Petersblog’s read that this ad is also designed to call Ferlita’s sexuality into question: what if she’s *gasp* gay?! She’s never been hitched so who knows…

The mailer was sent out by Less Government Now, a 527 group that appears to be tied to Scott Maddox, a local Democratic operative who likes to use the tactic of trying to split the Republican vote between mainstream party and Tea Party candidates. ThinkProgress points out that mailers from Less Government Now attacking male candidates focus on their policy positions or political careers, not their personal lives and marital status.

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  1. Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    “Unmarried” followed by “Unsure.” Yeah, that’s definitely trying to plant the idea that ‘omigod she might be gay!’ No question.

    This mailer is disgusting on so many levels and completely indefensible.

  2. Posted March 17, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Politifact says this mailer was not from Ferlita’s opponent, Bob Buckhorn. It was also never mailed and may never even have been printed. There is no evidence that anyone ever received it in the mail. The mailing permit number is bogus according to the post office. The owner of the return address denies knowing about it. It may have been intended as an anti-gay smear against Ferlita, although Tampa is gay-friendly, or it could have been intended to make Buckhorn look homophobic, which would be a dumb move in a Tampa election. Whoever did it got their 15 minutes of fame, but the voters of Tampa are just puzzled at its purpose and will likely ignore it now that they know it’s not for real.

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