Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

Attorney General Bondi's bashing of Obamacare draws potential challenger

George Sheldon, a longtime Florida political hand and a current U.S. Health and Human Services official, has been talking to political insiders and prospective donors about challenging Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2014.

A top issue for Sheldon: Obamacare, which the Republican Bondi fought in court and still bashes in public speeches.

"What concerns me is the continual flailing against the Affordable Care Act," said Sheldon, a Democrat. "You had it passed by Congress, signed by the president, an election held over it and a Supreme Court decision. At a certain point, we have to move on … but it's still in her talking points."

Sheldon wasn't completely critical of the GOP or of Bondi. He credited the attorney general with fighting against human trafficking.

"She has been one of those attorney generals who has taken that issue to heart," Sheldon said. "And you have to give credit where credit is due."

Bondi would likely be a tough opponent. Republicans tend to outperform Democrats in nonpresidential election years.

Sheldon ran unsuccessfully twice before for statewide office, in 2002 for attorney general and in 2000 for education commissioner against Charlie Crist, who later appointed Sheldon to head the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Swing a possum, hit politician

If there were any lingering doubts about Gov. Rick Scott's determination to seek a second term as governor, they were quickly dispelled Saturday when he headed out to rural Wausau in Washington County for the 44th annual Possum Festival and Fun Day.

Rick Scott, playin' possum in a non-election year? You bet. The possum festival, one of Florida's most colorful political traditions, is a must-attend event every election year, as button-down, big-city politicians try to show they're right at home with rural, down-home Panhandle folk. Around Wausau, possum is served fried, fricasseed or sauteed, not to mention its popularity as a pet or even as a wardrobe accessory. Or hood ornament.

'Stand' pardon is sought

State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, is hoping the Florida Cabinet will help secure a pardon for Marissa Alexander.

Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing what she described as a warning shot at her husband. She tried to claim immunity under the state's "stand your ground" law but was found guilty.

Bullard sent letters about the case to Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater last week. Gov. Scott would need at least two members of the Cabinet to start the pardon process.

Dream Defender vs. Gaetz

In a flurry of Tweets on Sunday and Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz agreed to a televised debate with Dream Defenders director Phillip Agnew. The topic: Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Agnew said he challenged Gaetz to a verbal duel late Sunday after spotting news reports that Gaetz wouldn't support changing "one damn comma" in the self-defense law. Gaetz has been tapped by House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on the law this fall.

Agnew's Tweet to Gaetz: @mattgaetz tv debate on #standyourground? I'm in the Capitol. The reply from the Fort Walton Beach Republican: Looking forward to it.

Kathleen McGrory contributed to this report.

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