National pundits always claim nothing divides Republicans as much as immigration. Conservative Republicans will push back against Barack Obamas amnesty plan but dont expect too many of the GOP leaders on the issue to come from Florida. Many Florida Republicans stand in the middle between Obama on one side and conservatives on the other.
But there is one Republican who should be front and center on this one for conservatives: Pam Bondi. When Bondi ran for attorney general back in 2010, she was a vocal champion of Arizonas immigration law. During her time in Tallahassee, Bondi backed Arizona, filing an amicus brief when the Obama administration took the immigration law to court.
Cracking down on illegal immigration hasnt exactly been at the top of her agenda but Bondi has certainly carved a niche on the issue to the right of other Florida Republicans like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. With Obama putting illegal immigration on center stage on Thursday night, Florida conservatives should look to Bondi on this one.
During her time in Tallahassee, Bondi has been active with other Republican state attorneys general across the nation, forging coalitions to challenge the Obama administration in court. Most memorably, Bondi led the coalition of states taking on Obamacare. While she lost that battle, the other Republican attorneys general thought well enough of Bondi to place her in charge of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) for the next year.
Some Republican attorneys general are already talking about challenging Obamas executive action granting amnesty. Based on her past positions, Bondi should join in the coalition. Its certainly not a stretch since Bondi joined with Arizona to defend its immigration law.
There could also be other factors at play. Unlike Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam, Bondis name doesnt constantly surface as a candidate for higher office though its certainly not out of the mix completely. Bondi can afford to stick to her conservative guns and not be concerned with scaring off the increased number of Hispanic voters in Florida -- and the rapidly increasing number of illegal aliens in the Sunshine State.
Bondi is more on the national stage than people realize. Besides being in charge of RAGA for the next year, Bondi is one of the most recognizable Republican attorneys general and is the only woman in the group. If Bondi joins in on the challenge against Obamas amnesty plan, she will be one of the Republicans leading the charge.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.