David Bellamy files elections complaint against Jeremy Matlow over radio ads

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Tallahassee City Commission candidate David Bellamy has filed an election violation complaint against his opponent for Seat 3, incumbent Commissioner Jeremy Matlow.

The filing comes after the Bellamy campaign sent a cease-and-desist letterto Matlow over a radio ad suggesting Bellamy is a Republican running as a Democrat.

The original 30-second spot features the voice of Pastor Lee Johnson saying Bellamy voted for and donated to former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We don’t need a Trumpite on our City Commission,” Johnson says in the original ad. “You know how they feel about us. Ask your friends and neighbors and they’ll tell you, ‘We’re sticking with the one we got, Jeremy Matlow.’”

In the complaint, Bellamy contends the ad’s claims are false and that he has been a registered Democrat since 1988.

Bellamy said because it is a nonpartisan race, directing voters not to elect someone based on party affiliation is a violation of state election laws.

The Matlow campaign pulled the ad and replaced it with another one featuring Johnson again advising listeners not to vote for Bellamy, saying Bellamy “acts like a Republican” and that Republicans have donated to his campaign.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Johnson says. “We don’t need a Trumpite on our City Commission.”

“It is unclear why Matlow continues to label me a ‘Trumpite’ when I have publicly stated that I did not vote for Donald Trump and did not want to see him elected as President again in 2024,” the complaint states.

Later in the complaint, Bellamy says the revised radio ad “presents no reason to support its plea not to vote for me. Put another way, the Revised Advertisement campaign(s) on party affiliation.”

The Bellamy camp released a statement saying he “reluctantly” filed the complaint because Matlow “feels the need to cheat and divide people.”

“This sadly comes as no surprise given his history of breaking the law, not paying his taxes, and empty campaign promises,” Bellamy said.

Bellamy’s campaign employs the same St. Pete-based consultant as Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. Reggie Cardozo was also behind Dailey filing an elections complaint against his opponent, Kristin Dozier, over mailers.

Matlow released a statement saying Bellamy voted for DeSantis and that 75% of his political donations have gone to “extreme right-wing Washington politicians like Matt Gaetz.”

“Tallahassee deserves better,” Matlow said. “City Hall doesn’t need a commissioner running on a national right-wing agenda.”

Matlow went on to say “the good ol’ boy system Bellamy represents is coming to an end.”

Bellamy, an orthopedic surgeon, entered the race in October 2021 to unseat Matlow, who owns the pizza business Gaines Street Pies and was elected in 2018.

Bellamy’s endorsements include former Florida State University President John Thrasher, the Big Bend Police Benevolent Association and Grow Tallahassee.

Matlow has been endorsed by former Tallahassee Mayor Dot Inman-Johnson, Tallahassee Professional Firefighters, property appraiser Akin Akinyemi and lawyer Ben Crump.

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