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Re-elect Butterworth

Democrat Bob Butterworth, seeking his third term as Florida's attorney general, has worked aggressively to protect Florida consumers and improve state law enforcement efforts. He deserves to be re-elected.

Butterworth cites the Juvenile Justice Department created by the Legislature this year as one of the most important achievements under his watch. Getting bad kids off the street, punishing them but also offering a chance for rehabilitation, requires an agency separate from the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Butterworth said. The state now needs to turn its attention to domestic violence next year, he said, because 70 percent of juvenile criminals come from homes where they witness or receive abuse.

Consumers have received rebates, reductions in charges and settlements worth some $200-million as a result of Butterworth's work through his department and other agencies. After a Times investigation showed that thousands of Floridians unknowingly buy rebuilt wrecked automobiles, Butterworth joined support for legislation to require disclosure of the wrecks.

He has not hesitated to go after those he believes have done wrong in the state, even the lords of baseball. After the botched deal to move the San Francisco Giants to St. Petersburg, Butterworth began an investigation of Major League Baseball officials on suspicion they illegally conspired to prevent the move.

Butterworth's Republican opponent is Miami attorney Henry G. Ferro, 36, making his first run at statewide office. Ferro was a circuit judge in the 11th Judicial District in Dade County for four years, and his courtroom behavior brought him more than his share of controversy. Ferro has thoughtful ideas on sentencing reform and juvenile justice, but he simply doesn't have the background to serve effectively as the state's top law enforcement officer.

By contrast, Butterworth, 52, has experience in almost every facet of the criminal justice system. He was sheriff of Broward County, a county and circuit court judge in Broward, and director of the Department of Highway Safety and the Florida Highway Patrol. Florida voters should take advantage of that experience and keep Butterworth in office.