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Candidates Deny Links to Racist Campaign Flier

August 21, 1998

Copyright 1998 Sun-Sentinel Company



Nobody knows for sure who penned the mysterious campaign flier pointing out that one Florida House candidate is black and the others are white.

But the one-page ad mailed largely to white and Jewish condominium residents this week comes at a time when the Broward County Commission is considering creating a group that would police local elections.

The ad reminds voters that former Mayor Bobbie Grace of Dania is the only black candidate in House District 99 in central Broward. It says the other three candidates _ Ken Cooper, Patti Webster and Tim Ryan _ are white.

''I have the experience and know our people's needs,'' the advertisement reads in part. ''I can bring the black causes together to serve us better.''

Grace denied she wrote the ad and called it a smear. She said it was an attempt to scare whites into believing she is running a campaign only for blacks.

''It was written negatively, like I'm for (only) the blacks,'' Grace said. ''I'm for all the people.''

Grace said her limited campaign cash prevents her from doing mass mailings until the week before the election.

''I haven't had the opportunity and I haven't had the funding to,'' she said.

Many activists in the district _ which includes portions of Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Cooper City and Pembroke Pines, and all of Dania_ believe Grace isn't behind the flier.

''Bobbie Grace is a lady,'' said Deby Salama of the Pembroke Pines Democratic Club. ''This was not sent out by Bobbie Grace. She wouldn't stoop to this level.''

On Thursday, Cooper, Webster and Ryan denied being behind the flier, each saying it is an example of politics at its very worst.

''It's an unfortunate piece of literature for everybody,'' Cooper said. Dirty political tricks are exactly the kind of campaigning the proposed county Fair Campaign Practices Commission would tackle. Representatives

of both major political parties hope the County Commission will debate the proposal in September.

The campaign commission would have the authority to review complaints about dirty electioneering and issue reprimands.

This kind of campaigning doesn't help, said Edward Pozzuoli, Broward County Republican chairman.

''Any form of campaigning that would separate the communities of this county, I wouldn't encourage,'' he said. ''If she said she had no involvement, I'd tend to believe her.''





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