Florida's AG Race Shapes Up as Candidates Maneuver for Ground

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: September 3, 2014 3:55 AM
Bill Wohlsifer, Pam Bondi, George Sheldon

Bill Wohlsifer, Pam Bondi, George Sheldon

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her opponents are squaring off in the most competitive statewide election in the Sunshine State outside the gubernatorial contest, and they spent recent days maneuvering for position and looking ahead toward holding debates. 

Former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, the Democratic nominee challenging Bondi, unveiled a new group to support his campaign on Tuesday as he made a play for the center, even as his Republican opponent showcased her ties to the GOP.

Sheldon was in Tallahassee on Tuesday to launch Floridians Seeking Common Ground which will be led by former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Quincy Police Chief Walt McNeil.

“Our mission is to make government work again and to focus more attention on issues and solutions to problems where there is broad agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Sheldon said, pointing to various areas.

“People in both parties care about our environment, about assuring supplies of clean water to support our growing population, about our clean air and beautiful beaches that attract millions of tourists each year, about restoring the Everglades and other environmentally sensitive parts of our beautiful state,” Sheldon said. “Common ground also means protecting consumers by keeping utility companies and financial institutions in check. It means listening to doctors and scientists on policies like medical marijuana and climate change.”

“Our country cannot continue on this path where politicians would rather fight with each other than solve problems,” said Butterworth under whom Sheldon served as deputy attorney general and deputy DCF secretary. “We can make tremendous progress on so many issues where there is widespread agreement among the people only if we can elect political leaders who want to get these things done instead of score political points for their party.”

But even as Sheldon looked for “common ground” between political affiliations, he spent the Labor Day weekend stumping alongside an old political foe in former Gov. Charlie Crist. Now the Democratic candidate challenging Gov. Rick Scott in November, Crist, then a Republican, defeated Sheldon to become education commissioner back in 2000. In 2002, when Crist was the clear favorite for the Republican nomination to become Florida attorney general, Sheldon ran in the Democratic primary, placing third.

In the meantime, Bondi is highlighting her ties to the Republican leadership, including stumping for Scott in recent days. Alongside Scott, Bondi campaigned in Plant City on Monday and Fort Myers on Tuesday.

After Sheldon won the Democratic nomination in last week’s primary, Bondi said there remained “clear” differences between them and called for debates.

“I have been honored to serve as Florida’s attorney general over the last four years, and am proud of the incredible progress we have made in shutting down pill mills across the state, eradicating synthetic drugs, working to combat human trafficking and protecting our citizens from fraud,” said Bondi last week. “The voters will have a clear choice between candidates in this election, and they deserve to hear directly from us on the distinct difference in visions and leadership that each candidate will offer to the attorney general’s office. This can be accomplished through thoughtful and respectful dialogue worthy of our great state.”

Sheldon responded to Bondi on Friday in a letter calling for five debates.

“We have so many important issues in this election, and one debate cannot possibly do them justice," Sheldon wrote. “Voters should be well-informed about both candidates’ commitment to consumer protection, fighting Medicaid fraud, punishing human traffickers and helping their victims recover, concerted action against pill mills, the role of the attorney general’s office in promoting equal rights and equal justice under the law and in making sure that utility rates do not reward utilities for bad management decisions.

“There are also the issues related to the attorney general’s role as a member of the Cabinet, including the protection of public lands, the integrity of the state pension fund and the state’s commitment to the public employees who rely on the pensions they have earned,” Sheldon continued. “The choice of an attorney general every four years deserves more than one debate, and I hope we can share these public platforms to help the voters better understand the vision and plans each of us would bring to the office of attorney general.”

Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer, the Libertarian nominee in the race, called on Bondi and Sheldon to include him in any debates. Wohlsifer noted his opponents had not yet signed up for a debate hosted by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in which he will take part.

"Neither of my opponents have (sic) answered the invitation to join the debate organized by FAU that includes all three of the candidates for attorney general in Florida,” Wohlsifer noted over the weekend.

The Libertarian sent an open letter to Bondi and Sheldon, calling on them to debate him.

“We have each been invited to debate on campus at FAU in Boca Raton on Oct. 8, 2014, by FAU's Political Science Department,” Wohlsifer wrote. “The event was announced months ago, yet I am the only one who accepted the challenge. Please stand up and accept the invitation and join the debate with me on campus. I look forward to seeing you there.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinstatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

Comments (10)

1:10AM SEP 6TH 2014
Thanks on finally including Mr. Wohlsifer within election coverage, Sunshine News. See what happens when you report all sides? Now here is hoping Ms. Bondi and Mr. Sheldon actually put their money where their mouth is and answer his challenge to a debate. The voters of Florida deserve such.
Tim Gordon
9:39AM SEP 5TH 2014
Bill Wohlsifer is the candidate that the press tends to omit and he is the one people need to be familiar with. If you are going to vote please be knowledgeable of ALL of the candidates. Bill Wohlsifer is the right man for AG of Florida.
8:50AM SEP 5TH 2014
I wish there was like buttons on the comments! Thank you for including Bill in the article and showing the cowardice of the other two candidates to debate him. Guess that means he is the right person for the job.
Ron R
2:53AM SEP 4TH 2014
I can't believe the press isn't making more out the of the fact that Sheldon - by his own admission - isn't eligible for the office of attorney general. and that, obviously, as a member of the political elite he gets to play be other rules. i'm not sure how we can entrust someone who's supposed to apply the rules and laws of the state to the rest of us, when he can't even abide by the rules and qualifications of the office!!?

and why isn't the press making a bigger deal out of this? is it because he's got that 'D' on his label?
8:43PM SEP 3RD 2014
Vote Bill Wohlsifer !!!
As for Governor:
Why vote between 2 known liars? Florida, we are fortunate enough not to
be stuck picking one liar or the other this time. We actually have an
alternative. Take advantage of the opportunity. Adrian Wyllie deserves
my vote. He is a honest average Floridian just as you and I , that is
willing to stand up and do something for the interest of all of us here
in Florida. The other candidates both Republican and Democrat are owned
and controlled by special interest, like puppets and will lie to your
face to gain your vote, then continue the same old agenda that we
complain about year after year. Time to get off this merry-go-round,
election after election, thinking it will be any different. Take a
stand, vote for the candidate that loves this state and is willing to
take time out of his life, effort and money to SERVE the people of
Florida and stop voting for these ‘paid for’ career politicians that are
only out for money and fame and have zero interest in us Floridians.
Even if it’s just for honesty alone, vote for Adrian Wyllie instead of
the other two (Scott/Crist) which are proven liars. The choice is yours
and yours alone, if you want the same old corruption and slap in the
face, go ahead and vote for one of the two puppets (Scott/Crist) OR do
what is right for our (yours and your children’s) future and vote for
Adrian Wyllie. Support him by donating to his campaign, spreading the
word and contribute to the super brochure program which I think is very
powerful. Visit his website today
Jo Vaccarino
10:37AM SEP 3RD 2014
I will be a loud and irate voter if ALL debates do not include ALL three candidates!! They all paid the same ballot access fees, met the same criteria ... oh wait ... no, actually George Sheldon didn't live here the past 7 years or maintain his FL Bar the past 5, (but I heard he got an "excusion" - Did the judge just change our Constitution with that?).

Anyway, I'm glad that Sunshine State News included ALL the candidates in this article. I'm supporting Bill Wohlsifer because I think he's the best man for the job - and I love his hemp4water plan! I wish you would have mentioned that in your article. Next time, maybe? Be sure to check it out - website is called hemp4water.
matthew macik
10:11AM SEP 3RD 2014
let bill debate
Lynn House
7:03AM SEP 3RD 2014
Let Bill Wohlsifer debate!
A-Hole Adelson
6:19AM SEP 3RD 2014
STOP GOP terrorism against Veterans using Medical Marijuana for PTSD.
Republicans are alcoholic hypocrites, bigots and thugs.
6:59AM SEP 3RD 2014
maybe you ought to listen to some more facts before you make such a judgment

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.