Negative Campaigning Continues

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The dirty campaigning hasn't gone away. This is a taped call of one of the surveys Tuesday night, but one surveyor was caught off guard Tuesday evening when his question backfired.

Gen. Larry Flemming said, "One of her questions was, do you know Major General Larry Flemming endorsed Lee Sullivan, and I said you’re talking to Larry Flemming. And I reminded them I might not want their endorsement, I might be the kiss of death."

The retired Tyndall base commander and longtime county commission critic says he was asked a series of questions which appeared to favor Sullivan, but he doesn't know why his name was used in the poll.

"I haven't endorsed anybody. I haven't made up my mind yet, and I won't until I walk into the poll and I hope it's made up by then."

A Panama City woman reported a similar poll with a series of questions about each candidate. A transcribed version of the phone survey shows questions asking if the caller would support Sullivan if she knew he was a career law enforcement officer and mayor for two terms.

There were also a series of questions about Jimmy Patronis and Cameron Skinner. For example, two of the questions were would you vote for Skinner if you knew he served in Iraq and is a deacon in his church, and would you vote for Patronis if you knew he changed political parties and once challenged Allan Bense?

Sullivan was not available for comment, but insists his campaign isn't behind the push poll. The other candidates say the same thing.

Cameron Skinner, State House candidate, said, "I think push polls are negative campaigning at the worst."

Jimmy Patronis, State House candidate, said, “It's wrong; it's an illegal use of money to slam a candidate. If you want to do it, there is a legal process to do it."

State law requires campaigns to file paperwork informing the elections commission about their intent to conduct a push poll. Surveyors also have to inform callers that they're polling on behalf of a particular candidate.

Whoever is behind the polling could be in hot water with the state. The Florida Elections Commission is reportedly looking into the surveys for possible campaign law violations.