Welp. Florida Man got a reputation for stupidity and violence to uphold.
From Marc Caputo at Politico, a Republican primary candidate for the Tampa Bay area congressional district (13th) - being vacated by Charlie Crist as he plans another run for Governor in 2022 - threatened another Republican primary opponent with a Russian-Ukrainian hit squad. Yes, he went there:
During a 30-minute call with a conservative activist that was recorded before he became a candidate, William Braddock repeatedly warned the activist to not support GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who is running for governor.
“I really don't want to have to end anybody's life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” Braddock said at one point in the conversation last week, according to the recording exclusively obtained by POLITICO. “That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f---ing speed bump in the road. She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood...”
Olszewski denied editing or altering the recording. She said she made it because she was concerned about Braddock’s “unhinged” dislike of Luna that he had previously expressed. After she made the recording just after midnight last Wednesday, she promptly turned it over to St. Petersburg, Fla., police and gave a heads-up to her friend Luna, who filed a petition for an injunction against Braddock. Luna and Olszewski each received a temporary restraining order against him last week. Braddock filed to run Monday...
“...I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians,” he said about three minutes into the call, adding “don't get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it's by herself...”
It's unclear exactly why Braddock has such dislike toward Luna. The two do not appear to have any previous connection to one another, and Braddock is a lower-tier candidate in an increasingly crowded race for Crist’s seat. Already, two state lawmakers and a former Obama administration official have entered the race, with others expected to jump in...
I have a pretty good idea why Braddock has that much dislike towards Luna. One, she's openly as wingnut a candidate you can find among Republican ranks, railing against Socialism and praising Sarah Palin. Braddock doesn't want the competition for the MAGA vote. Two, she's a woman, and the goddamn misogyny underlining male conservative ideology tends to trigger this kind of violent response.
But there's a lot more to unpack in all of this insanity.
Braddock is bragging that he's got the money and the connections to hire foreign hit squads. This isn't the kind of thing you post on your resume, nor something you bring up in a PowerPoint presentation to the local Rotary clubs. Either he's just announced he's that dangerous to others he views as rivals (in either politics or business) or he's lying and bragging about shit he can't back up, which still makes him dangerously insane.
And it's telling that when he brags about this, Braddock is calling on "Russian-Ukrainians" as a specific foreign ethnicity at his beck and call. This brings forward the ongoing scandalous behavior of Republicans and Far Right business figures constantly getting caught committing dirty work within the sphere of Putin's influence. He's not talking about ex-SEAL mercs, or sniper teams from a Central American nation that got U.S. backing during the 1980s. Braddock is going to the one overseas nationalist white-power country in Russia (with Ukrainian expatriates in the mix) that has gotten its hooks into every level of Republican leadership the last ten years.
To anybody who takes national security and political integrity seriously, this is a major ongoing scandal threatening the whole United States.
Braddock, one way or another, is exposing a lot of the problems consuming the Republican Party: Obsession with wingnut purity, the easy talk of violent actions towards rivals, the willingness to threaten and harm women, reckless bravado bordering on stupidity, and open association with a foreign power that is in opposition to the United States and our European allies on the global stage.
This may be yet another Florida Man moment, but it's not funny.
Gods help us.