As expected, the governor appointed veteran prosecutor Bruce Bartlett to serve as Pinellas-Pasco state attorney.
Bartlett served as chief assistant state attorney for the man he will replace, longtime State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who died Jan. 1 at the age of 73. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the appointment late Thursday.
“I’m truly grateful to Gov. DeSantis for his trust in me to represent the people of Pinellas and Pasco County as their State Attorney,” Bartlett said in a statement.
McCabe spent a half-century as a prosecutor and in 1992 was elected to oversee all prosecutions in Pasco and Pinellas counties. He died days before he was to start another four-year term.
The circuit’s chief judge appointed Bartlett as acting state attorney after McCabe’s death. The governor’s appointment means Bartlett will serve for the next two years, until the position goes on the 2022 ballot.
Bartlett told the Tampa Bay Times that he intends to run for the position in two years, in what would be the longtime public servant’s first political campaign.
He has spent four decades as a prosecutor in the region, handling several high-profile prosecutions and rising to become McCabe’s second-in-command. Bartlett briefly retired in 2014 but returned to his former position.
He was on the prosecution team that convinced a jury to convict Oba Chandler for the 1989 murders of a visiting Ohio family, Joan Rogers and daughters Michelle and Christe. Chandler was executed in 2011.
The prosecutor was also on the teams that sent the killers of these law enforcement officers to prison: Pasco sheriff’s Lt. Charles “Bo” Harrison, who died in 2003; St. Petersburg police Officer David Crawford, who was killed in 2011; and Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek, who lost his life in 2014.
“I had the honor of working with my friend Bernie McCabe for over 40 years,” Bartlett said. “His legacy, and the legacy of our office, is to work every single day to maintain the highest level of justice on behalf of the people of Pinellas and Pasco Counties; you have my word that I will.”
Bartlett’s appointment was endorsed by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who worked in the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office under both McCabe and Bartlett.
“There is no person in the State of Florida more qualified for the job of Sixth Circuit State Attorney than Bruce Bartlett,” Sprowls said in a statement.