***Updated*** Manatee Co. leader Jonathan Bruce first to call on Melissa Howard to drop out, campaign responds
Former Manatee County Commissioner Jonathan Bruce is calling on Republican state House candidate Melissa Howard to drop out of the running in District 73. The move was prompted by accusations Howard lied about graduating from Miami University in Ohio and then faked her diploma.
“What a sad day for integrity in local politics,” Bruce said. “A really unreal turn of events. Melissa Howard should leave the race now.”
Anthoni Pedicini, a consultant for Howard, noted Bruce already endorsed Tommy Gregory, the other Republican running for state House in District 73. “Of course he would say she should resign,” Pedicini said.
He said Howard was busy caring for her husband, who is on bed rest after a cardiac event. “We’re not dealing with fake news today,” Pedicini said. “Bruce is a career politician who is part of the establishment. He probably was an anti-Trump guy too.”
Bruce, who served on the Manatee County Commission from 1996 through 2004, earlier this week sent an email to local media calling Howard’s education credentials into question after FlaNewsOnline.com reported she had not actually graduated from the Ohio school, despite saying she had in her official candidate bio.
“At first she