Republican Bondi takes attorney general race
MIAMI (AP) — Former Tampa prosecutor Republican Pam Bondi became Florida’s first female attorney general Tuesday, riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment that helped the political unknown to a comfortable victory over Democrat state Sen. Dan Gelber.
Bondi campaigned on national issues including a promise to challenge President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. With 73 percent of the expected vote counted Tuesday, Bondi had 56 percent, while Gelber had 44 percent.
“When I announced I was running for office I thought my biggest detriment would be I had never run for office before…and folks around the state have truly embraced that,” Bondi told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
The 44-year-old Bondi supports Arizona-style immigration law for Florida, saying the federal government’s failure to effectively address the issue has left states to fend for themselves. She says she will continue the state’s lawsuit against the health care bill, which was filed by the Republican incumbent Bill McCollum. He chose not to seek a second term to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, but lost.
She says the bill is unconstitutional and will devastate the economy, create a shortage of doctors and a loss of jobs.
He accused Bondi of trying to nationalize the campaign, knocking the Obama administration and the dismal economy as a way to distract from statewide issues. She got a boost early in the race with an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Bondi said she would crack down on mortgage fraud, gangs, prescription pill mills and cyber crime, but has offered few specifics.
Bondi, a graduate of the University of Florida and Stetson Law School, spent 18 years in the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office. She’s painted herself as a political outsider who’s been busy prosecuting cases, including the drug prosecution of baseball star Dwight Gooden, and was also its spokeswoman. She left the office last year to run for attorney general and has become a frequent contributor to Fox News.