AG Candidates Continue to Pound Each Other
Around the State
While the battle to become Florida’s next attorney general isn't getting the attention of the contests for U.S. Senate and governor, Republican candidate Pam Bondi and Democratic nominee Sen. Dan Gelber continue to attack each other, attempting to define their opponent before the November election.
On Monday Bondi's campaign team offered the latest in a series of contrasts between its candidate and Gelber. The Bondi team pledged to continue Attorney General Bill McCollum’s campaign against gangs and pointed to its candidate’s almost two decades of experience as a prosecutor as opposed to Gelber’s years in the Legislature as a reason why she would be tougher on gangs than the Democrat.
"As a prosecutor, I handled many cases of gang-related violence and crime, and I know firsthand that gangs are a very real and growing danger in our state," said Bondi, a former assistant state attorney out of Hillsborough County. "As attorney general, I will do everything in my power to fight crime and keep Floridians safe. Locking up dangerous gang criminals is a personal and top priority of mine."
Bondi said that her experience on the issue goes outside the courtroom.
"In addition to investigating and prosecuting gang criminals, I have personally gone into schools to speak to thousands of kids about the dangers of drunk driving, drugs, gangs, and the importance of staying in school," said Bondi. "Education is a key component to prevention, and it terrifies me that although I used to get asked to give these lectures to high-school students, I now know that if we don’t start in middle school, it is already too late for many of these kids."
Besides trying to contrast its candidate with Gelber on gangs, the Bondi campaign made previous comparisons between the Republican and the Democratic candidate. Specifically, the Bondi team took Gelber to task for not supporting McCollum’s legal challenge of new federal health-care laws backed by President Barack Obama and his record on taxes.
Gelber, from Miami Beach, returned fire at Bondi for looking to bring a partisan element to the attorney general’s office.
In an e-mail to supporters sent out on Monday, Gelber went after comments Bondi made at a tea party event on the First Coast Saturday, in which she praised Fox News for being right.
“I have no quarrel with Fox News,” insisted Gelber. “I believe that the great strength of a democracy is the presence of differing opinions – and our nation is majestic because Americans are passionate about their country and free to express themselves.
“But I do believe that making the race for attorney general into a hyper-partisan affair is a mistake,” he continued. “The job of attorney general is different than other political offices in that it should be – because of its responsibilities – a job that avoids extreme partisanship in either direction. Florida’s attorney general will make decisions about whether someone is prosecuted and goes to jail, whether industries are charged for abusing consumers or for anti-trust violations. These are weighty decisions affecting liberty, property and commerce, and they are judgments that can never be made through a partisan filter. Never.”
Gelber attempted to portray Bondi as an agitator, preferring to play on voter discontent than to serve responsibly as attorney general.
“Partisan anger seems to be more prevalent these days than thoughtfulness – and my opponent seems intent on embracing and stoking the anger,” wrote Gelber. “I am proud to run for this office because it does merit a higher road. While my opponent may choose to pander to the angry, the office we seek is done a disservice by courting such a narrow constituency. I seek to be the attorney general to all Floridians. That is how I will conduct my campaign, and that is how I will serve in office.”
Gelber announced on Monday that he has won the endorsement of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA) -- a group with more than 200,000 members across the Sunshine State.
“As a top federal prosecutor, Dan took on the crooks who prey upon Florida seniors, and we know he’ll continue to take them on as attorney general,” said Tony Fransetta, the president of FLARA. “Dan has been a tireless advocate for retirees in the Florida Legislature, and we couldn’t ask for a better candidate to be Florida’s top cop.”
“Throughout my career as a federal prosecutor, chief investigator and state legislator, I have always taken great pride in standing up for our seniors, which is why I am especially proud to have the endorsement of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans,” said Gelber. “Preying upon seniors is one of the greatest indignities, and as attorney general, I will do everything in my power to protect the economic security of our retirees and take down criminals who target them.”
Bondi has also been touching on senior issues in recent days, highlighting her almost two decades of experience as a prosecutor and condemning gangs and scam artists that threaten older Floridians.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.