Florida attorney general candidates: Who they are, what they stand for

Here’s a quick look at three Florida primary candidates.
From left to right: Jim Lewis, Aramis Ayala and Daniel Uhlfelder are all vying in the Democratic primary race for Florida attorney general.
From left to right: Jim Lewis, Aramis Ayala and Daniel Uhlfelder are all vying in the Democratic primary race for Florida attorney general. [ AP and handout photos ]
Published Aug. 22, 2022

Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, wants another four years in office. One of these three Democrats hopes to have something to say about that.

Florida’s attorney general is the state’s top law enforcement official. In addition to other responsibilities, the attorney general can sign Florida onto lawsuits against the federal government or write legal opinions that shape how state law is enforced.

The attorney general, who makes $139,988 per year, sits on the Florida Cabinet along with the agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer. The cabinet, along with the governor, votes on individual clemency cases and oversees several state departments.

The three-way Democratic primary will be decided Tuesday. (Check out how each candidate answered the questions in the Tampa Bay Times voter guide here.)

Moody does not have a primary opponent, so she has already advanced to the general election, which will take place Nov. 8.

Related: Grim Reaper, Ayala among Democrats running for Florida attorney general

Democratic primary

Aramis Ayala

Ayala, 47, is a former Orange-Osceola state attorney who made national headlines when she refused to seek the death penalty in any of her cases. That decision sparked a conflict with then-Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, who reassigned some of her cases to another state attorney.

Ayala is running on ensuring the separation of church and state, regulating shady actors in insurance and long-term care and fighting what she says are unconstitutional measures passed by the Legislature such as a 2022 law banning most abortions after 15 weeks.

In addition to garnering the support of musician and activist John Legend, who tweeted about Ayala’s campaign to his nearly 14 million followers, the candidate has raised nearly $117,000 for her campaign account.

Jim Lewis

Lewis, 64, a private practice attorney from Fort Lauderdale, is striking a conciliatory tone in his run for Florida attorney general.

On his campaign website, he says he will work to keep extremism out of government. He decries the “defund the police” movement, and says he hopes to unite Democrats and Republicans with middle-of-the-road policies. For example, Lewis says he supports legal marijuana for home use, but he says the drug should not be consumed in public.

The lawyer has spent decades in the legal space in Florida: He was an assistant state attorney in the 1980s, and a special prosecutor for then-Gov. Bob Graham.

Lewis’ campaign account has raised $6,250.

Daniel Uhlfelder

Uhlfelder, 49, got national media attention in 2020 for dressing up like the grim reaper to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to reopen Florida’s beaches.

Now, the Panhandle attorney says he should be the Democrats’ pick to take on Ashley Moody. He’s promising to “prevent the enforcement of any abortion ban” in Florida. Like his Democratic opponents, he’s criticized Moody for signing Florida onto a 2020 lawsuit hoping to overturn the presidential election. And he said he would throw out Moody’s various lawsuits against the Biden administration over its immigration policies.

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Uhlfelder has raised nearly $370,000 for his campaign account.

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