A good rule of thumb, I feel, is that if you're ever thinking about making a run for federal office, you should probably ask yourself whether that time you threatened to merc your opponent with an Eastern European death squad will help or hurt your nascent campaign.
This is the sort of advice I would have encouraged Florida man and Republican congressional candidate William Braddock to consider before he tossed his hat in the ring to replace outgoing Florida Rep. Charlie Crist (D). Because, according to a recording obtained by Politico, Braddock not only threatened to "disappear" fellow GOP congressional candidate and primary race rival Anna Paulina Luna, but he also mentioned "I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians."
According to Politico, the audio was secretly taped last week from call between Braddock and conservative activist Erin Olszewski, before Braddock officially declared his candidacy. The point of the conversation for Braddock, ostensibly, was to steer Olszewski away from supporting Luna in the upcoming GOP primary. But the call quickly veered into lunatic territory, with Braddock likening Luna to "a fucking speed bump in the road. She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood."
Olszewski then shared the recording with local police, as well as with Luna herself, who took out an injunction against Braddock two days before the text of his call with Olszewski was published by Politico.
"I received information yesterday ... regarding a plan (with a timeline) to murder me made by William Braddock in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for [Crist's seat]," Luna wrote in her petition to bar Braddock from any of Luna's events. According to the Tampa Bay Times, there is a hearing set for the injunction later this month. Olszewski has also filed an injunction against Braddock, claiming she fears for her life as well.
Nevertheless, Braddock seemed unperturbed when reached by the Times for comment, telling the paper, "I don’t really have any plans to prepare because I didn't do anything wrong."
"It is a false police report and [Luna is] probably going to jail for filing a false police report," he added.
While it's unclear what ignited Braddock's violent antipathy toward Luna, his conversation with Olszewski suggested he'd engaged in more than just idle speculation, going so far as to describe his team of hitmen as "Russian mafia. Close-battle combat, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, silencers kind of thing. No snipers. Up close and personal. So they know that the target has gone."
"My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary. And if the poll says Luna's gonna win, she's gonna be gone. She's gonna disappear,” Braddock explained elsewhere in the call with Olszewski. "For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few. … For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we've got to sacrifice the few."
Contacted by Politico about the call, Braddock didn't expressly deny his comments, telling the site that the voice on the call was "allegedly me … there is no proof of that."
Florida's 13th District had been a Republican stronghold, until 2016 when Crist won the seat from incumbent David Jolly.