Politics

Dem AG Candidates Try to Get Primary Voters' Attention

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 30, 2014 3:55 AM
George Sheldon, Pam Bondi, Perry Thurston

George Sheldon, Pam Bondi, Perry Thurston

With a month until the primary, the two Democrats looking to topple Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi are picking up the pace, even as a recent poll shows most likely primary voters have no idea who they are. 

Democrats are tuning out of the primary race to see who challenges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in November, a new poll finds.

A poll from Gravis Marketing and conservative magazine Human Events released over the weekend shows the overwhelming majority of likely Democratic primary voters -- 67 percent -- remain unsure of who they will vote for to challenge Bondi. The primary will be on Aug. 26.

Former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, who ran for attorney general in 2002 after serving as then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth’s deputy, takes 18 percent in the poll. Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, garners 15 percent.

“The race is a clear tossup. With a whopping two-thirds of the respondents unsure of who to vote for, the race is clearly up for grabs,” said Doug Kaplan of Gravis.

The poll of 792 likely Democratic primary voters was taken from July 23-24 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Sheldon took to the airwaves this week as he tries to make a splash in the primary. On Monday, he released a radio ad in which he attacks Bondi’s record.

“Pam Bondi repeatedly looks the other way when corporations and her big contributors try to rip off Floridians,” the narrator of the ad says. “If big companies want a favor from Bondi, she takes their money then cues the crickets."

Sheldon continued that theme in a video released on Tuesday. In the video, he says Bondi’s “contract shouldn’t be renewed” and, if he had any confidence in her, he would not have entered the race.

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Thurston, on the other hand, has been hitting various forums and Democratic events around the state in recent days. Reeling in the backing of a former colleague in the House, Thurston announced last week that Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed him.

In the meantime, Bondi continues to unveil the support of the business community’s leadership. Earlier this month, the Florida Home Builders Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce endorsed Bondi’s re-election efforts.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the primary advocate for businesses in the Sunshine State,” said Bondi after she won their endorsement. “In addition to the economic benefit that businesses bring to communities, many businesses in Florida have gone above and beyond in becoming vital partners in the state’s efforts to address the human trafficking problem we are fighting. I look forward to the ongoing collaboration my office shares with the chamber and the business community.”

Besides the organizational support, Bondi has a huge lead over foes in the money chase, having raised almost $1.5 million by July 18, using almost $900,000 of in-kind donations and spending less than $129,200. Sheldon had raised more than $285,850 but spent more than $268.725 of that by July 18. Thurston had raised less than Sheldon -- barely $169,850 -- but had more on hand since he spent less, having spent $85,117.

In the meantime, Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer, the Libertarian nominee, continues to showcase his support for the legalization of marijuana.

“There will be a huge demand for marijuana and industrial hemp in Florida's future,” Wohlsifer noted on Monday. “Don't let the Legislature close you out of it ... I will do all I can to shape MMJ and future hemp growth, processing, sale and distribution into open-market competitive industries.”

So far, Wohlsifer has raised $12,130, relies on $7,200 in loans and $7,325 of in-kind donations, and spent around $18,870.



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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