The hot dog left on Cris Dosev’s front step in northwest Florida was laced with toothpicks.
The first assumption many folks made on seeing his photo of the boobytrapped frankfurter on Facebook last month was that it was an attempt to harm the family pooch, Maverick.
And since Dosev was in a truly down and dirty campaign to unseat incumbent Florida state Rep. Alex Andrade in Tuesday’s primary, a number of commenters figured that politics in the Panhandle had taken a new low.
One wrote, “I’ve seen such evil ads against you... I wish I could shake some people.”
Another said, “So sorry to hear this. This is why many good people just want nothing to do with politics...”
And another said, “It is too bad that we have people out there trying to threaten those that are trying to fight for our conservative principle and our constitution. They will do anything to quiet you and us down.”
But if politicians too often act like kids, kids also sometimes act like kids. A neighbor called Dosev to report that her child and some friends had placed the spiked hot dog there as part of a stunt to make a video for TikTok.
Lisa Dosev, who is Cris’ wife and who had actually discovered the hot dog out front on the morning of July 28, posted an update on Facebook.
“Thank you everyone for your concern. Maverick is fine. I found it before he did and I am thankful for that. For the record we have no idea who would have done this and are not making an accusation of anyone.”
Her husband’s opponent, Andrade, tells The Daily Beast he also received a call from the prankster’s family. Andrade did not fail to note that the accusations remained on Cris Dosev’s Facebook page. Andrade texted hm.
“Hey, Cris, by now I’m assuming you know the ‘hot dog’ thing was apparently some kind of kid’s game that I was obviously not involved with. I’d appreciate it if you deleted the spot. Or at least clarified,” read the message Andrade later shared with The Daily Beast. “It would be pretty inappropriate to let your supporters continue to try and accuse me of trying to kill your dog.”
Andrade says he received no reply and the comments remained, collecting 58 shares and 439 likes.
“That post was shared 58 times!” Andrade said. “Close to 500 likes!”
Dosev did subsequently post an acknowledgement that the spiked hot dog was just some misguided mischief.
“I’m happy to report that there was no malicious intent towards our sweet, Maverick and he is doing fine,” Dosev wrote. “What was supposed to have been a funny TikTok prank by some neighborhood kids could have ended tragically.”
Dosev made clear that his dog is a Trumpian pup.
“Maverick wants to thank President Trump for his publicly stated intent to ban TikTok. Enough! Maverick says MAGA!”
Dosev posted two photos of the dog. Maverick sports a MAGA hat in one and wears a sign around his neck in both.
“I’m done with China,” one read.
“Thank you, Pres Trump for banning TikTok,” said the other.
Even without an attempted pupicide with a boobytrapped frankfurter, this contest for the 2nd District has gone about as low as you can go. A plummet to the bottom began with an ad posted by Dosev.
“Beware!” it begins. “Angry Alex Andrade attacks veterans, bullies mothers and grandmothers, and, worst of all, sponsored a gay rights bill that paves the way for men to play on girls’ sports teams. And men to go in girls’ bathrooms!”
“Enough of Angry Alex,” it continues. “Instead, vote for pro-Trump conservative, Marine combat veteran Cris Dosev. Dosev supports President Trump, our God given gun rights, and the right to life.”
Dosev is said to have taken a somewhat different view of Trump back in 2018. Dosev was then making an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, super suck-up to President Trump. People remember Dosev presenting himself in that earlier campaign as a “Never Trumper” disdainful of the president’s draft dodging and philandering. Dosev insists that he was only pointing out that he is a Marine combat veteran and a devoted husband with eight kids. Two of them are presently active-duty Marines.
Dosev says he encountered Trump during the 2016 presidential primary in South Carolina and gave The Donald an idea for reorganizing veterans’ health care. Dosev says Trump asked him to write down the concept right then and there. The moment is captured on video and shows Trump gesture to Dosev, who immediately reaches for a pen.
Whatever Dosev said or did not say during his failed congressional bid in 2018, he has now cast himself as a super, super Trump suck-up in his effort to become a state legislator. Dosev is a self-proclaimed “TRUE conservative” on Facebook. He posted a letter from Donald Trump Jr. claiming it was an endorsement. But a close reading reveals that the president’s son was merely trying to sell books while raising money for daddy, offering a signed copy for a minimum contribution of $150.
Dosev’s campaign poster was a photoshopped image of him standing with the president. It read:
His opponent, Andrade, happens to be a protégé of Gaetz, whom we should all remember as the jerk who wore a gas mask on the House floor back in March during a vote on billions to combat COVID-19. Gaetz was echoing Trump’s “hoax “ talk and making fun of those who feared the virus that is now on the way to killing more than 200,000 Americans.
Such behavior is often the province of people who are some big shot’s kid. Matt Gaetz is the son of Don Gaetz, one-time president of the Florida state Senate. That makes the younger Gaetz a princeling of the state’s Republican establishment. And Andrade’s association with him apparently helped convince Florida’s GOP to pour money into his campaign.
One result was an ad whose audio begins by calling Dosev what is a dirty word among Panhandle Republicans.
“Liberal Cris Dosev,” it says.
Another epithet follows.
“A Never Trumper who attacked the president’s character.”
The left side of the screen is occupied by a photo from Dosev’s Facebook page taken when he was visiting his native Chicago. The picture shows him standing on a lakefront dock with a beer in his left hand and his right arm around a pretty woman.
Andrade insisted to The Daily Beast that the woman's face is obscured only because she is a private citizen. Andrade also maintains that the ad is not suggesting anything untoward despite the words that appear to the right of the image:
“CRIS DOSEV CHIDED PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR HIS INFIDELITIES… LACK OF MILITARY SERVICE.”
Almost anybody who saw the ad would discern a suggestion Dosev was not someone who should accuse anybody of adultery.
Dosev was outraged.
“They kept that ad running 24/7,” he told The Daily Beast. “They didn’t stop.”
He reposted on his Facebook page the photo without the woman’s face obscured.
“For all you concerned citizens, I just wanted to reveal the mystery woman behind the attack ad made by my opponent... as none other than my wife of 34 years, Lisa,” he announced. “They wanted to make it seem as though I was conducting some scandalous affair. If they are prepared to stoop so low as to attack my character and attempt to humiliate my wife and me, ask yourself what else are Alex Andrade and Matt Gaetz prepared to do to secure their offices. They are both disreputable miscreants. They lie about my steadfast support for President Trump and they lie about me and they are lying to you.”
On Aug. 13, Gaetz endorsed Andrade on Facebook Live, stating vigilance is needed at all levels of government.
“I don’t care if it’s the mosquito control board, if we have people that are pushing against the Trump agenda, who are fighting against the America First values that animate our movement, well, then, we’re just not doing right by our president. We really need for you to vote for Alex Andrade for our state representative.”
Gaetz repeated the charge that Dosev is a Never Trumper who opposed the president when it was politically advantageous. Gaetz aso repeated charges that Dosev had attacked Trump for the way he conducted his personal life.
“People who want to stay with the president don’t do that,” Gaetz said.
Never mind that Gaetz and Andadre were party to what almost anybody would recognize as an attempt to slime Dosev.
The ad still had Dosev incensed on Aug. 13, when he saw a group of young volunteers with Andrade signs outside an early polling site in Pensacola. Dosev began telling them in emphatic terms what he thought of their candidate, who happened to be a short distance away. Andrade came over.
“You know what? I wouldn’t put it past you to try to kill my dog,” Dosev told him. “That’s the kind of guy you are.”
Dosev strode away and the campaign continued until the primary on Tuesday. Turnout was light. Andrade won some 60 percent of the vote to Dosev’s 40 percent, sending him back to his life as a real estate developer who happens to be married to a Slovenian woman.
“But I never went bankrupt,” he said, managing a joke Tuesday night.
In truth, Dosev and Andrade both lost.
At last report, Maverick was doing fine.