Senate 39’s Andrew Korge vs Anitere Flores gets ugly fast

That was quick.

The race between Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Kendall) and DemocratKorgeFlores challenger Andrew Korge, son of lobbyist and big national Dem fundraiser Chris Korge, is the first this year to go negative.

That means that, officially, the state campaigns have begun.

Occupy Democrats, a national advocacy group that pushes blue candidates, released a video online this week that calls Flores “The Queen of Corruption” because of her ties to the unaccredited Doral College, where she worked as president from 2011 to 2015, earning $150,000 a year (according to her own financial disclosures), while she pushed legislation in Tallahassee that benefited the state’s charter school cottage industry.

They even put a little crown on her head.

The video, a minute and 12 seconds long with foreboding, horror film background music, quotes the senator saying things like “I’m Anitere Flores. I take tax dollars meant for education and pocket them,” and “I abuse my legislative power to enrich myself. Got a problem with that? Tough!”Anitere Flores negative mailer

None of it is spoken. It’s all text superimposed over or shuffled into a collection of the most unfortunate photos of Flores.

“I give your tax dollars to me and my friends,” one slide says. In the next, she’s holding a huge submarine sandwich where a microphone would be in one hand and a large order of McDonald’s fries in the other.

“This is a new low,” she told Ladra. “I think it’s sad.”

By “friends,” the video creators mean Academica, which runs Doral College and is Florida’s largest for-profit charter school operator, and owner Fernando Zulueta, who are connected to a few other 305 politicos and is a prolific campaign contributor. State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. (R-Hialeah) is chief operating officer of Doral College and State Rep. Erik Fresen (R-Coral Gables) is Zulueta’s brother-in-law. Fresen, a land use lobbyist that specializes in charter schools, is in his last term, but — naturally — is eyeing the Florida Senate as his next step (more on that later).

Flores called the attacks baseless and said that she helped establish Doral Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 12.33.16 AMCollege so that higher education would be accessible to more students, regardless of their economic status. She added that the school was pursuing accreditation through the state’s “rigorous process” with state regulators and that “every single school starts off unaccredited.”

The first graduating class at FIU didn’t know if the law school would be accredited in time. Florida Polytechnic University was created by the legislature in 2012, has a president and buildings paid for by the state, charges tuition — which Doral College does not — and it is yet to be accredited. “It can take a while,” Flores said, calling the claims in the video half truths designed to mislead.

The video — posted Monday and with 277,000 views by Thursday afternoon — is a little disingenuous when it says she was paid $450,000 at Doral College, because that is over her entire time there, not an annual amount.

But this is not the first time that the school’s political connections come into scrutiny. The political connections and the Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 12.37.04 AMbenefits Academica may reap have been investigated by several news hounds, including those at the Miami Herald and the Broward Bulldog. The Education Department’s Inspector General Office was moved to audit Academica and other “school management companies” nationwide.

So, it’s natural that this would be where Korge, or those supporting him, get their ammunition. What else are they going to do? He has zero experience, zero track record of his own to run on other than his father is also Hillary Clinton’s sugar daddy. As he was for Obama.

In fact, it’s a little strange (read: hypocritical) to hear this kind of attack on behalf of the silver-spooned son of a man who became a millionaire off the public trough in airport concessions. Andrew Korge grew up on the public teet.

When asked about the video, Korge — who wants Ladra to call him a businessman because he dabbled in real estate and is a shareholder on a start-up — disavowed any connection to it. He also told me he would run a campaign based on his fresh ideas. But in the next breath he railed against Flores in what might be a preview of the negative attack ads to come.

“Let there be no doubt that Anitere and I have very different ideas. She is out to destroy public education. She doesn’t care about the environment. She votes wherever the wind is blowing. I have my principles and core values.

“The key thing is that these for-profit universities and colleges are destroying a generation and she’s part of the problem,” Korge said. “And she should be held accountable.”

You usually don’t hear this kind of attack so early on — more than seven months away from the general election. We usually also don’t hear this kind of attack against a woman — a mother at that. Consultants curse the Hispanic mamita opponent because attacks on moms usually backfire.

But this seat, in a newly drawn district, is seen as one of the few that the Democrats hope they can turn this year. The predominantly Hispanic district leans blue, but a lot of those Democrats are in black pockets that might not be as eager to go out and vote for Hillary as they were for Obama.

So you can bet that there will be more negative attacks on Flores. Ladra is sure they didn’t toss this bomb out so early to not follow up on it. Maybe they’ll find particular angle to motivate black voters to vote against her.

‘Cause they sure ain’t motivated to vote for the rich kid.