When Aramis Ayala began campaigning for state attorney in this Central Florida district last year, so few people knew her that she handed out cards informing voters how to pronounce her name.
While she'd worked for eight years as a public defender and nearly two years in the Orlando state attorney's office, she was a political novice seeking public office for the first time. She worried about name recognition in a race against her boss, who had swept into office in 2012 thanks in part to his high-profile role in the infamous Casey Anthony trial. The Michigan native didn't even live in Orange or Osceola counties; she promised to move into the district.
Now, after upsetting popular Democrat Jeff Ashton in the primaries, after clinching the district's top law enforcement job in an unopposed general election, and after becoming Florida's first black state attorney, she shocked the country by announcing she wouldn't pursue the death penalty in capital murder cases.
"I have determined that doing so is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice," she said March 16, a view she had not expressed publicly during her campaign.
The decision has her in an ongoing legal fight with the governor and prompted the Florida House speaker to say he'd start impeachment proceedings against her if he could.
It also has Floridians wondering who she is.