Newly created super PAC starts running TV ads in final stage of South Florida congressional race

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A newly created super political action committee, called Florida Democratic Action, began cable TV advertising Wednesday on behalf of congressional candidate Omari Hardy.

It’s the first time Hardy has been on TV in paid advertising in a contest in which several of his opponents — Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Barbara Sharief and Perry Thurston — have been on the air for months.

A media buying firm reported the political action committee is spending $102,010 for a total of 810 spots.

The advertising is coming late in the campaign — after mail voting has been taking place for weeks and in-person early voting started Saturday. The state Division of Elections shows 19,162 people had cast mail ballots by the end of the day Tuesday. The Broward and Palm Beach County supervisors of elections offices reported at midday Wednesday morning that 2,007 in-person early votes have been cast.

The 20th Congressional District, which encompasses most of the African American and Caribbean American communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties, is so overwhelmingly Democratic that the winner of the party’s primary is all-but-certain to win the Jan. 11 general election.

An Oct. 21 filing with the Federal Election Commission also shows the super PAC spent $49,213 on direct mail to promote Hardy.

The TV ads showed up Wednesday morning on MSNBC, the favorite cable news channel of Democrats. The 15-second spot that appeared on the channel’s “Morning Joe” program describes the candidate as “a teacher who grew up here” and a leader on several issues. He’s currently a state representative from Palm Beach County, something that isn’t mentioned in the ad.

There isn’t much transparency behind Florida Democratic Action, which doesn’t have a public footprint.

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It was formed in August, according to another FEC filing. Because it’s an odd-numbered year, when elections aren’t normally held, Florida Democratic Action PAC doesn’t have to disclose its contributors until after the Nov. 2 special congressional primary.

Its treasurer is a partner at a major national political consulting firm.

A super PAC is allowed to receive unlimited contributions and spend the money on independent expenditures. Hardy welcomed the advertising support, even before he saw the spot. He’s not legally allowed to coordinate with the super political action committee even if it’s supporting his candidacy.

“We have just a few days to decide whether we want transformational change in this district or just more of the same old, same old,” Hardy said.

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