High School Sports

Dist. 67 endorsement draws questions (with video)

MANATEE — A candidate for the District 67 seat in the Florida House of Representative has been telling his supporters and the press that one of his opponents falsely claimed an important endorsement.

Greg Steube, one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination, said rival Robert McCann has claimed he had the endorsement of Marco Rubio, a former House speaker and presumptive Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

“This whole campaign, I’ve tried to stay positive,” Steube said in a telephone interview Monday, “but when someone says they had such an important endorsement, we have to set the record straight.”

Steube said he was at the Manatee Republican Club sponsored candidates’ forum Thursday with all the candidates when he heard McCann make the claim of being endorsed by Rubio.

“We were all sitting there when he went up to the podium and said we would be the first to know that he was endorsed by Marco Rubio,” Steube said. He said his campaign had some doubt about the claim but had to take time to verify the statement.

“Florida statute says you have to have something like this in writing,” the East Manatee attorney said. ”We contacted the Rubio campaign and they said they did not endorse him.”

An e-mail from the Steube campaign said, “Last Friday, State Representatives Ron Reagan and Rachael Burgin spoke with Marco Rubio and he adamantly denied endorsing McCann. Rubio later posted a message on Twitter echoing this sentiment.” The Rubio campaign Monday did not return a message seeking comment.

McCann said in a telephone interview Monday that the announcement was a matter of miscommunication.

“Someone close to the Rubio campaign told me he thought the endorsement was forthcoming so I could go ahead and announce it,” he said. “But apparently that turned out not to be the case.”

The medical doctor and attorney said he has since received an e-mail relaying the mix-up and Rubio’s contact acknowledging the miscommunication.

Jeremiah Guccione is the other Republican running in the Aug. 24 primary election for the District 67 seat. Incumbent Rep. Reagan, R-Bradenton, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Democrat Z.J. Hafeez and John Studebaker, with no party affiliation, will face off with the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 2 general election.