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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Things getting ugly fast in HD 61 race

The gloves have come off in the House District 61 race, with one Democratic front-runner comparing the other to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and accusing him of being a sellout.

A campaign mailer being sent by candidate Sean Shaw to voters in the Tampa district says opponent Ed Narain “will side with the Republicans,” mentioning support Narain has received from GOP-affiliated lobbyists.

The district, which includes East Tampa, Seminole Heights, West Tampa and Ybor City, is heavily Democratic. The only candidates are four Democrats and a write-in.

That same mailer, which has a picture of Scott next to Narain’s name, alleges that “there’s a reason Republicans support Ed: They know that he will sell our community out and side with them.”

“Ed’s no Democrat,” it says. “He’s a Rick Scott Republican.”

Narain fought back in an email sent to supporters Monday morning.

Shaw “promised to run a clean race. I took him at his word,” Narain said. “...Now, he is questioning my Democratic values on radio and in the mail.”

Narain laid out a stark choice: “You can vote for someone who has spent his entire adult life trying to improve our community, or you can choose someone who spent his entire adult life trying to improve his political status,” he said.

Shaw, originally from Tallahassee, moved to Tampa to join a law firm after running unsuccessfully for the north Florida legislative seat now held by Alan Williams, also a Democrat.

As a former state insurance consumer advocate, Shaw has styled himself as a pro-consumer candidate and Narain as the candidate of “big business.”

Narain, a lifelong Tampa resident and area manager for AT&T, said that he “will not be ‘swift-boated’ by (his) opponent.”

“Voters in Tampa are much smarter than he is giving them credit for,” he said in the email. “Twenty years of service will not be beaten by 20 months of pretending.”

Narain suspects that his endorsement from incumbent state Rep. Betty Reed, who is term-limited, may have set off the Shaw camp.

“This changes the tenor of this campaign,” Narain told Tribune/Scripps in a phone interview. “And I’m not going to stand for it.”

Fresh Squeezed left a message with Shaw and will update when we hear back.