Florida Attorney General Candidates Square Off

The candidates for Florida's attorney general squared off in a debate Monday night.

“My name is Dan Gelber.”

“I'm Pam Bondi.”

They were civil, but not always agreeable on the big issues in the campaign for attorney general. Take the federal health care reform law. Continuing a suit aimed at repealing it is a key plank in republican Pam Bondi's platform.

Bondi: This is so important to Floridians and to our future, and I would wholeheartedly continue with this lawsuit.

...a move Bondi's democratic opponent, Dan Gelber, attacked as unwelcome activism by Florida's top lawyer.

Gelber: If you want to fix that health care bill, and I believe it needs to be fixed, I think the way to do it is in the Legislature, not through the courts. Only politicians brought these suits.

For a full hour, no matter the topic, Bondi and Gelber rarely let up, each accusing the other of being an insider, whether in terms of time in office…

Bondi: I've never run for political office. My opponent sees this is as a stepping stone. House for eight years, state senate...

...or money in the bank.

Bondi: My special interest is Dot Cornett, a woman who gave ten dollars to my campaign.

Gelber: An outside group, a national group, that is supported by Wall Street interests, is spending half a million dollars in the Orlando market right now. And that's not Dot, 'cause she didn't have that half-million dollars.

It was a theme that arose again and again. By the end of the hour, the defining question was easily who can best independently shake up Tallahassee?

“I will fight for you and I will not be somebody who's worried about the Tallahassee ruling elite, which one editorial said has already chosen my opponent,” said Gelber.

Q: You've both taken corporate special interest donations, have you not, so aren't you both a little bit guilty of that charge?
Bondi: I believe we've both taken corporate interests, and again, my opponent sought the endorsement of the chamber of commerce.

They've made their points. We know their differences. And in just two weeks, one of them will become Florida's next attorney general.

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