Democratic dogfight for Florida Senate District 35 seat heats up

MIRAMAR, Fla. – The Democratic dogfight for one state Senate seat is getting downright nasty.

These are two candidates who are not far apart on most issues, but the attack ads are starting to pop up more and more frequently in this race.

It’s the race for Florida Senate District 35 between Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book and former Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief.

One of the most recent spots was one by Sharief’s camp, showing old footage of Book’s 2009 appearance on the show “Platinum Weddings,” where it was revealed her wedding cost more than $1 million.

The ad says she’s fiscally irresponsible and that she and her husband pay themselves $350,000 out of her nonprofit.

Then there’s another ad alleging that Sharief defrauded Medicaid twice.

Nearly 10 years ago, the state found her home healthcare company did overbill Medicaid by hundreds of thousands of dollars two times. She ended up settling the situation, and paying nearly $700,000.

The political jabs will likely continue and even ramp up, but, realistically, the two candidates for the newly drawn 35th District are closely aligned on the issues.

Both are pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-gun control and pro-equal justice.

Book’s campaign told Local 10 News in a statement Monday that the attacks against her are false, shameful and distorted.

“From day one, Senator Book’s opponent has made false attacks and lied about the Senator’s record,” the statement read. “Our opponent continues with shameful, distorted personal attacks, including now attacking the Senator’s marriage and her work supporting abused children.

“Our campaign has shared clear facts based on our opponent’s admission of overbilling Medicaid twice and our opponent’s voting record while on the Broward commission. Every word is truthful, verifiable, and relevant to her job.”

Sharief also shared a statement with Local 10 News:

“Lauren Book has never been on the ballot and never won an election. I have won many. I understand that when my opponents are losing, they attempt to slander my good name. Since my father was murdered in cold blood many years ago, I have worked hard to achieve everything I have in life.

“I did not have the luxury of having a millionaire lobbyist guiding my future as Lauren’s father has for her. She has made up many provable lies and I feel sorry for her that she is so desperate to win that she has stooped so low.

“I am a strong black woman with three wonderful daughters, and I refuse to allow Lauren Book to lynch my good name. Sadly, she has stooped to going on This Week in South Florida and blamed me for problems with the 911 system. We have an elected Sheriff and if there are problems within his department Lauren has no business laying that at my door especially. I sat on the County Commission with many commissioners who have endorsed Lauren. Is she blaming them as well for the 911 woes?

“I have had numerous calls from members of the black and brown community in Pembroke Pines and Miramar telling me to stay strong as they know Lauren Book has only lived in the district for weeks and I have been fighting for these residents for many years.

“Lauren Book is running a charity that pays her hundreds of thousands in salary from the taxpayers and that exorbitant salary is paid for by us taxpayers…that is why she is so desperate to win her first election, because she knows if she loses this election the legislature will probably cut off her funding because she overpays herself.”