THE ISSUE: Florida Attorney General endorsements.

OUR OPINION: Clear choices in both primaries.

The Attorney General is Florida’s chief legal officer, responsible for protecting consumers from various types of fraud and other criminal activities, enforcing the state’s antitrust laws, and defending the state in civil litigation cases, among other responsibilities. The Attorney General sits as a member of the Florida Cabinet, along with the Chief Financial Officer and the Agriculture Commissioner.

For more on the mission and responsibilities of the Florida Attorney General, see: http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/F06F66DA272F37C885256CCB0051916F.

REPUBLICAN

In the GOP primary race for Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, former circuit judge from Plant City, and Frank White, a Pensacola lawyer, are seeking the Republican nomination to run for the seat being vacated by current AG Pam Bondi.

Ashley Moody labels herself “a prosecutor, not a politician,” though since 2006 she was a judge in the 13th Circuit until resigning in 2017 to run for Attorney General. She was a federal prosecutor from 2004 to 2006, and spent three years early in her career practicing commercial law with the large statewide law firm of Holland and Knight. She has accounting and law degrees.

Moody has been endorsed by Bondi, by 42 county sheriffs including Citrus County’s, and by 12 State Attorneys including the 5th Circuit’s, plus our state senator, Wilton Simpson.

Frank White has represented District 2 in the Florida House of Representatives since his 2016 election. He is the chief financial officer and general counsel for the Sansing Dealer Group, his wife’s family’s multi-state auto sales business.

White positions himself as a Constitutional conservative. He says on his website that he believes “the attorney general’s No. 1 job is defending the Constitution and the rule of law. And to me that means our enumerated rights in the Constitution, Second Amendment rights, the right to life, the Constitutional structure, issues related to federalism and making sure politicians are held accountable.”

Our opinion: The Chronicle recommends Ashley Moody in the Republican primary because of her wide experience in Florida’s legal system and the extensive support she has garnered statewide from those with whom she will be working closely.

DEMOCRAT

In the Democratic primary race for Florida Attorney General, Sean Shaw and Ryan Torrens are seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the seat being vacated by current AG Pam Bondi.

Sean Shaw has represented District 61, encompassing much of the metropolitan Tampa area, in the Florida House of Representatives since his 2016 election. He has worked as a trial lawyer in private practice, and previously served for two years as the state’s insurance consumer advocate under former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Shaw’s priorities for the office of Attorney General include making the office an active public watchdog, holding the Legislature accountable, having zero

tolerance for public corruption, prosecuting those who take advantage of Floridians through fraud and identity theft, and going after drug traffickers while expanding drug treatment and prevention. He said he would re-establish a vigorous office of open government to help the public preserve and gain access to public records and meetings.

Ryan Torrens is an attorney from Tampa whose private practice specializes in representing homeowners in foreclosure cases. Previously he worked as a consultant reviewing foreclosure cases at Bank of America in Tampa.

Torrens has said that he’s “running to be your lawyer, the people’s lawyer” because “how much justice you get should not depend on how much money you have.” Torrens’ priorities for the office of Attorney General include strong support of the Seniors vs. Crime Program, willingness to prosecute criminals to the greatest extent possible, and holding drug traffickers and pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid crisis in Florida, along with addressing treatment for those addicted.

Our opinion: The Chronicle recommends Sean Shaw in the Democratic primary because of his greater experience and his determination to support open records and open government.

CHRONICLE ENDORSEMENTS

  • BOCC 2 (GOP Primary): Ron Kitchen
  • BOCC 4 (GOP Primary): Scott Carnahan
  • District Court Judge: Edward Spaight
  • School Board 5: Linda Powers
  • Attorney General (DEM): Sean Shaw
  • Attorney General (GOP): Ashley Moody
  • Governor (DEM): See Sunday, Aug. 5 edition
  • Governor (GOP): See Sunday, Aug. 5 edition
  • Agriculture Commissioner (DEM): See Monday, Aug. 6 edition
  • Agricuture Commissioner (GOP): See Monday, Aug. 6 edition
  • U.S. Senate (GOP): See Tuesday, Aug. 7 edition

Editor’s note: The Chronicle invites candidates not endorsed by the newspaper to send rebuttals to marnold@chronicleonline.com no later than Aug. 23.

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