With less than three weeks until the primary, the hotly contested battle for the Democratic attorney general nomination took a hard turn Thursday when Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres ran the first television ad of the contest.
The ad stresses Aronberg’s opposition to oil drilling and takes a shot at his primary opponent, Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, bringing up his ties with a law firm that represents BP. Gelber resigned from Akerman Senterfitt at the end of June.
The Gelber campaign expected the ads based on an e-mail sent out on Wednesday afternoon.
“Here is where things stand,” wrote Gelber to supporters. “We have won every single newspaper endorsement decisively so, as expected, our opponent went on the air today with even more negative ads.”
Gelber’s team responded Thursday.
“In his ad, Aronberg calls Gelber a ‘Miami lawyer.’ This is both unseemly and ironic, considering Aronberg was himself a Miami lawyer,” said Christian Ulvert, Gelber‘s campaign manager. “Dave Aronberg should end his outrageous and false attacks on Dan Gelber. Newspapers across the state have overwhelmingly said Dave Aronberg is engaging in a manufactured campaign that is simply dishonest.
“Maybe Dave Aronberg is focusing on falsehoods and a mudslinging campaign to cover up his anti-consumer record and his continued support for property insurance and telephone-rate increases that hurt everyday Floridians and working families. Dave Aronberg is lying to Floridians through his television commercials and insulting the legal profession with his ‘Miami lawyer’ remark against Dan Gelber.”
While both candidates participated in a forum in Tallahassee Tuesday night, the two sides continue to spar over the debate process. Aronberg rejected Gelber’s request to hold a debate in each of Florida’s 11 media markets, and the two campaigns have sent e-mails back and forth to see if they could come to an agreement for a joint appearance.
Aronberg sent an e-mail to Gelber late Wednesday in the latest round of trying to schedule a debate in the final days of what has been a close battle for the nomination.
“I am happy to work debates into my schedule during the closing weeks of the campaign and have provided dates below so we can make this happen,” wrote Aronberg.
Aronberg noted that he will be in Jacksonville on Friday, in Orlando on Saturday, and in Naples, Fort Myers and Pensacola next week, and that any of those locations will work to hold a debate.
A poll released Thursday revealed how important debates and TV ads will be in the closing days of the primary battle. Conducted July 31 and Aug. 1, the poll of 238 likely Democratic primary voters, commissioned by the Associated Industries of Florida and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, finds 62 percent of voters remain undecided. Aronberg won the backing of 20 percent of the population surveyed, slightly ahead of Gelber, who came in with 18 percent -- well within the poll’s 6.4 percent margin of error.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.