Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa announced his candidacy for state attorney general Tuesday by denouncing incumbent Pam Bondi for misplaced priorities.
Standing outside the Florida Supreme Court where his late father, Leander Shaw, served as a justice and chief justice for two decades, Shaw promised to be a consumer watchdog if voters elect him in November.
“We’re going to be very activist. We’re going to protect Floridians at every level and we’re going to do what people expect from this office, which is to protect them,” Shaw said. “I’m figuring out reasons to go after people to protect Floridians.”
He faulted Bondi for turning “a blind eye” to the abuses by pharmaceutical companies that have worsened the opioid epidemic and for squandering Florida taxpayer resources to fight Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
“The people of our state should be able to count on their attorney general to protect them, to always enforce the rule of law -- not to have someone more concerned with how their comments will play out on Fox News,” Shaw said. “Soon they’re going to have one.”
Shaw, a graduate of Princeton and the University of Florida law school, was elected to the House in 2016. He’s a former consumer advocate under Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
At Tuesday’s announcement, Shaw pointedly criticized President Donald J. Trump for “lawlessness and contempt for the norms.”
He enters a crowded race that includes fellow Democrat Ryan Torrens and four Republicans: Tampa lawyer and former circuit judge Ashley Moody and three GOP House members, Jay Fant, Ross Spano and Frank White.
The statewide primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 28, but voting by mail will begin about a month earlier across Florida.
Bondi, a Tampa Republican, is term-limited and cannot run again. The last Democrat to serve as attorney general was Bob Butterworth, who left office in 2002.
One reason that Democrats keep losing down-ballot Cabinet races in Florida is that they are consistently outspent by better-financed Republicans.
“We’ll raise what we need to raise to be competitive,” Shaw said, adding he will raise more than $4 million. He’s expected to have the support of Orlando personal injury lawyer John Morgan, who has the personal wealth and political contacts to raise a lot of money.