Trial Lawyers Prepare to Blast John Thrasher With New Round of Negative TV Ads
Trial lawyers are swinging more aggressively at former House Speaker John Thrasher in a northeast Florida Senate race, with a television ad slapping the former Florida Medical Association lobbyist for a pair of ethics violations.
The ad, ready to hit the airwaves this weekend, also compares Thrasher with such embattled politicians as South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
It’s been produced by Conservative Citizens for Justice, led by Jacksonville lawyer Tom Edwards, immediate past president of the Florida Justice Association, the state’s trial attorney group.
“I’m not concerned about John Thrasher because he’s a former medical association lobbyist who led the state’s tort reform effort, but I am concerned about his ethics,” Edwards said Wednesday. “His record speaks for itself.”
The television spot alludes to Thrasher’s two ethics violations involving his lobbying, one occurring while he also was a first-term lawmaker and the second after he left office but was still under a two-year lobbying prohibition. Thrasher was reprimanded by the House for the first offense and fined for the second.
The ad can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/mc44qv
Thrasher is the leading fund-raiser and front-runner in the Senate District 8 race to succeed the late Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville. The Republican primary is scheduled for Sept. 15, and with no Democrat in the field, looks likely to decide the race.
Thrasher has aired a biographical TV ad and is expected this week to begin a new spot with Jeb Bush speaking on his behalf, one of three ads the governor has done for the candidate, a longtime political ally.
Thrasher’s campaign was quick to dismiss the critical TV spot.
“John Thrasher has stood up to these personal injury lawyers and will continue to do so,” said Thrasher spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. “John Thrasher is not about the politics of tearing people down; he is about building the community up. Shame on them for these sensationalized ads.”
Thrasher and his supporters blamed the influential trial lawyers’ organization for another ad critical of him now airing in the Jacksonville area, paid for by a 527 organization called Stop Tax Waste, Inc. Its president, T.J. Harrington, sought to distance the group from the Justice Association but acknowledged some trial attorneys may have contributed financial support.
Trial lawyers lost a powerful supporter earlier this summer when Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, resigned and was replaced by former Rep. Joe Negron in a special election.
Thrasher’s election could signal a weakening of its historic strength in the Senate, where it frequently clashes with business and medical organizations on a host of issues.
Edwards said conservative trial lawyers are clearly behind his efforts.
“We have not endorsed any other candidate in this race,” Edwards said. “But we don’t want Thrasher.”
Besides Thrasher, the Republican field now has six other candidates: Brett Noucher, businessman Dan Quiggle, Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, Joshua Larose, Robert Allen Jones and Duval School Board member and former Rep. Stan Jordan.
Also Wednesday, Thrasher unveiled a roster of new endorsements, including Bush, Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne.