AP file photo by Eric Drape|
U.S. Marine Jason Drake of St. Cloud, Fla., allows Albanian children to touch his head at a NATO-run refugee camp in Stenkovac, near Skopje, Macedonia, in April 1999. Authorities said Monday that the 30-year-old former Marine killed himself and two others, including Republican political consultant Ralph Gonzalez, in Orlando, Fla., last week.
Slain consultant worked in Alabama campaigns
By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY — A Republican political consultant killed in a double murder-suicide in Florida had worked on several Alabama campaigns, including Attorney General Troy King's winning race, and helped distribute an "Adam and Steve" leaflet in a legislative race that angered Democrats.
Ralph Gonzalez, 39, president of the Stratagum Group, was found dead at his Orlando home Thursday along with his roommate, attorney David Abrami, 36, and a friend, Jason Robert Drake, 30.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office released a statement Monday saying it determined Drake, a former Marine, killed the other two men and himself. Drake was carrying a firearm and a backpack full of ammunition.
The short statement said witnesses have mentioned "a number of potential motives," but it did not reveal any.
Gonzalez' funeral was Monday in his hometown of Miami.
Strategum's Web site says Gonzalez worked on some 2006 races in Alabama, including King's successful bid for attorney general, Scott Beason's successful race for the state Senate, and Phillip Wood's unsuccessful campaign for the state Court of Civil Appeals.
Chris Brown, founder of the Southern Insights political consulting firm in Birmingham, said Monday that Gonzalez worked as a subcontractor on some Alabama campaigns, handling some of the printing and mailing for candidates who used Brown's services.
Brown said he and Gonzalez had been friends for about 10 years and worked together for the Florida Republican Party in 1999, helping with campaigns for the Florida House. Gonzalez went on to work for the Georgia Republican Party and Brown for the Alabama Republican Party before they opened their political consulting businesses.
"He was a good guy. It's a tragedy," Brown said.
Kenneth Steely, campaign manager for King, said Gonzalez was brought into the campaign through King's Florida consultant, David Johnson, and handled printing one set of cards that were distributed by the campaign. Steely said he never met Gonzalez.
Beason, R-Gardendale, founded a political action committee called the Alabama Republican Legislative Committee in 2005. It reported paying Gonzalez' firm $3,144 for work in the special election for Alabama House District 65 in 2005 in Southwest Alabama.
Beason said it was for printing and mailing the committee's flier. The flier stated that Democrat Gloria Dolbare of Bigbee had not signed a Christian Coalition pledge to support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in the state. The flier said: "Let Gloria Dolbare know God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"
Dolbare, who was trying to replace her late husband in the House, lost the special election to Republican Nick Williams of Chatom, who had signed the pledge.
Dolbare's loss angered some Democrats in the Legislature, who made several speeches criticizing the flier. The Democratic Party targeted Williams when he ran for a full term last year, and Democrat Marc Keahey of Grove Hill defeated him.
Beason said he never met Gonzalez, but talked to him several times on the phone and picked up a line from him to use in speeches.
Gonzalez, the son of Cuban immigrants, was opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants, Beason said.
"He was the one who told me first, 'It's like breaking in line at Six Flags.' I've used that ever since," Beason said.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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