Pinellas County Commissioner, John Morroni recently endorsed Darden Rice for St. Petersburg City Council.
The Commissioner had no idea the endorsement would lead to a virtual back and forth, starting with this Facebook post, “Doesn’t he have cancer of the brain… hmmm?”
Morroni was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008.
"Everyone whose known me over the last five years knows I’ve been fighting cancer for the last five years and that so far I’ve beaten it, thank God,” Morroni said.
Republican Party State Committeeman, Dan Tucker posted the comment.
"It just seemed really hurtful to me because of what I’ve been through and my family," said Morroni.
The post outraged many lawmakers and residents. Some responded in the thread calling Tucker out on attacking the commissioner’s health.
Others urged Tucker to apologize. Senator Jack Latvala called for Tucker to resign.
"I thought it was the most asinine thing that I’ve seen an official of my party say in the 40 years I’ve been involved actively as a Republican. I thought it was unthinking, uncaring and just generally classless," said Senator Latvala. “I think for a party official to be basically making fun of or making light of cancer of the brain is just unforgiveable.”
Michael Guju, Chairman of the Pinellas Republican Party, has also called for Tucker to resign. He released the following statement Monday afternoon:
The Pinellas Republican Party has tried to handle this matter internally. We have conducted discussions in a private manner with State Committeeman Tucker. We have proactively and continuously discussed this matter with Mr. Tucker. Unfortunately, he has refused to do what is in the best interests of the party and resign. Thus, the Executive Board of the Pinellas Republican Party publicly condemns the insensitive comments and unanimously calls for Mr. Tucker to resign as state committeeman.
Tucker did post an apology that read, "Please forgive me, comments about grave illnesses have no place in political discussions." Tucker also called commissioner Morroni.
"He called and said John, you know I’m really sorry, that was a very poor comment to make. And I said yeah, I said you really hit me below the belt and I said, but you know, I’m a forgiver," said Commissioner Morroni.
Morroni, who is in remission, says he’s putting this behind him.
"I’m moving forward, you know, every day is a special day in my life,” he said.