Pam Bondi, Dan Gelber Start to Raise Attacks in AG Race
Around the State
Lost in the shadows of the dramatic, competitive battles for governor and U.S. Senate, the two major party nominees in the attorney general’s race nevertheless have begun to attack one another and stake out positions they hope will lead to victory in November.
Both Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and former Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi emerged after competitive primaries. Gelber defeated Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres in the Democratic primary. Bondi beat Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson for the Republican nomination.
Since winning the nomination, Bondi has argued that there are substantial differences between her and Gelber. The Bondi campaign team has called attention to differences between its candidate and the Democratic nominee with each passing week. Last week, the Bondi team hammered Gelber for backing new federal health-care laws supported by President Barack Obama. Bondi supports the constitutional challenge Attorney General Bill McCollum has mounted against the new measures.
On Tuesday, the Bondi campaign picked up the theme of its candidate being an outsider who spent almost two decades working in the state attorney‘s office in Hillsborough County, contrasting that with Gelber’s years of experience in the Legislature.
“I have spent my entire career as a prosecutor, standing up to criminals and working to protect victims,” said Bondi. “I have two decades of experience looking out for the interests of the people, and I am ready on day one to continue that work as your next attorney general.”
The Bondi team ripped into Gelber for jumping from the House to the Senate and then immediately launching a bid for the U.S. Senate before dropping out to run for attorney general. Bondi herself hinted at that line of attack on Tuesday.
“I’m a career prosecutor, not a career politician,” said Bondi. “Serving as your attorney general is not a stepping-stone to another political office. For me, it is an opportunity to continue my work defending Floridians.”
Gelber, who toured the state with Aronberg as a show of Democratic unity after the primary, responded by jabbing back at Bondi, arguing that she is not as much of an outsider as she claims to be.
“I feel very good about the general election,” wrote Gelber in an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday. “I stack up favorably against my opponent, and believe voters will see a real distinction in the leadership we are offering: I am committed to fighting for everyday citizens, while she has already told Tallahassee special interests she stands with them.”
Gelber added that he had a clear vision of the responsibilities of the attorney general’s office.
“I'm running for attorney general because this office -- like so many in Tallahassee -- has forgotten its purpose,” continued Gelber. “It's supposed to be the office that fights for consumers and stands up against the most powerful who want to harm our citizens.”
Gelber maintained that the volatile electorate favored his chances in November.
“Floridians are mad -- frustrated -- that government is looking out for everyone but them,” wrote Gelber. “They are angry that powerful special interests are making decisions that have nothing to do with the aspirations of everyday Floridians. That people have become profit centers for those who buy and sell government like it's a cost of doing business.”