BRADENTON -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is unopposed in the GOP primary and will face either former Secretary of the Department of Children and Families George Sheldon or state House minority leader Perry Thurston, who face off in the August 26 Democratic primary.
As DCF secretary under then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Sheldon oversaw a $3 billion agency during a stable peroid in which foster child adoption rates rose and food stamp error rates fell. Later, Sheldon was one of eight assistant secretaries at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If elected, he says that he will restore the aggressive consumer efforts that Bob Butterworth managed during his four terms. He says he would challenge the utility companies' rate filings that come before the Public Service Commission and avoid the out of state legal fights Bondi has pursued, like the Chesapeake Bay lawsuit regarding the federal Clean Water Act.
Sheldon is a graduate of Plant City High School and received both his undergraduate and law school degrees from Florida State. He served eight years in the state legislature, before leaving to run unsuccessfully for Congress. He also failed in past bids for Florida Education Commissioner and Attorney General.
Thurston is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and the University of Miami School of Law. He spent four years as an assistant public defender before going into private practice, where he specialized in criminal defense and public finance.
Thurston is the state House minority leader and has done an impressive job of bringing attention to issues and challenging the Republican majority's stronghold, despite a large disadvantage in seats. Perry's energy and passion are seen as a major strength in fighting for controversial legal issues in a capitol that is likely to continue to be dominated by members of the other party.
Both candidates oppose virtually all of Attorney General Bondi's high-profile manuevers, including her opposition to the Affordable Care Act; her weak record in going after financial and Medicaid fraud and on environmental issues like the BP oil spill.
Both Thurston and Sheldon also denounced Bondi's backing of Governor Scott's failed attempt to drug-test state employees and appealing court rulings in order to try and preserve Florida's ban on same-sex marriage.
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