1. Florida Politics

Ahead of attorney general run, former Hillsborough Judge Ashley Moody draws Bondi's support

Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody filed to run for Florida attorney general on Friday, weeks after her resignation.
Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody filed to run for Florida attorney general on Friday, weeks after her resignation.
Published Jun. 6, 2017

TAMPA — Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody won't officially announce her candidacy for attorney general until today, but she already has the support of that office's current occupant.

Pam Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that Moody is the candidate she will support in the 2018 race.

"I've known her most of her life," Bondi said. "I don't think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I wholeheartedly support Ashley, and I'm proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state."

Moody, a Republican and daughter of a longtime federal judge, filed to run for the state's top law enforcement post Friday, weeks after she resigned from the bench.

"I'm not a politician," Moody, 42, said in an interview Monday. "My life's work has been dedicated to the rule of law."

She said she thinks her experience, which includes 10 years as a circuit judge in Hillsborough County, makes her uniquely qualified to be attorney general.

Moody was complimentary of the job Bondi has done, calling her "relentless" in combating crime. She wants to continue some of Bondi's initiatives, noting Bondi's efforts to address the opioid crisis and to combat dangerous drugs as one issue she would continue to pursue.

Moody said she also wants to improve the way the criminal justice system treats people with mental illnesses and to prosecute criminals who prey on the elderly.

"The intrigue of running for attorney general is that I could use my experience in a more proactive, statewide basis to improve our system of justice," she said. "Being a judge is very reactionary."

Her competition on the Republican side includes Jay Fant, a two-term state House member from Jacksonville. Fant has said his priorities will be defending citizens' constitutional rights and "fighting big government."

Democrat Ryan Torrens, a Tampa foreclosure defense lawyer, also filed to run last week. Torrens, 32, has said consumer protection should be one of the attorney general's main jobs, along with prosecuting crime.

Bondi's support gives Moody a clear advantage, said Darryl Paulson, emeritus professor of government at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

"The endorsement of Bondi may be the most important strength going into the election," Paulson said. "Having the strong backing of a popular incumbent officeholder is always a major plus for any candidate."

One challenge, though, will be the effect President Donald Trump might have on all Republicans running for office, Paulson said. At the same time, Democratic turnout in off-year elections tends to be lower than that of Republicans, which may counter any drag Trump has on other candidates.

Moody hails from a local judicial dynasty. Her late grandfather was a circuit judge and served in the state Legislature. Her father is a longtime federal judge. Her mother is an attorney who has counseled poor seniors. Her brother has been among the names considered for two open circuit court seats.

Beyond her prominent family connections, Moody has an impressive list of her own achievements.

She earned bachelor's, master's and law degrees from the University of Florida, making her a "triple Gator." She was president of Florida Blue Key, the prestigious UF honor and service society. She was a student-member of the state Board of Regents when it ran Florida's university system.

Before running for judge in 2006, she worked at Holland & Knight on commercial litigation and fighting crime at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jacksonville.

She was first elected to the bench in 2006, at age 31. At the time, she was the youngest judge in Florida.

As a judge assigned to the court's juvenile division, Moody drew praise for her work outside the courtroom, helping establish a mentoring program for delinquent youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

In the court's criminal division, she handled several high-profile criminal cases, including that of Trevor Dooley, a Valrico man who unsuccessfully argued a "stand your ground" defense in the shooting death of his neighbor.

Speculation abounded about Moody's plans when she resigned in April.

Her father, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr., said she had told the family a few months ago that she was considering running for attorney general.

"The closer she got to making the decision, the more it felt right," he said. "I call her the Energizer Bunny. If anybody can do it, she can."

Moody is married to Justin Duralia, a federal agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration. She has an 18-year-old stepson, Brandon, and a 7-year-old son, Connor.

Contact Dan Sullivan at or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.


  1. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. FILE- In this July 1, 2013 file photo, is the exterior of the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals office in St. Louis. The generic drugmaker Mallinckrodt has a tentative $1.6 billion deal to settle lawsuits over its role in the U.S. opioid crisis, it announced Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The deal is intended to end hundreds of lawsuits faced by the company over opioids. (Whitney Curtis/AP Images for Mallinckrodt, File) [WHITNEY CURTIS  |  AP]
  3. U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R- Dover, recently repeated the defense he’s offered since his 2018 election over illegal contributions to his campaign. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times (2017)]
  4. In this June 17, 2019, file photo, a cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. Investigators from 39 states will look into the marketing and sales of vaping products by Juul Labs, including whether the company targeted youths and made misleading claims about nicotine content in its devices, officials announced Tuesday. Juul released a statement saying it has halted television, print and digital advertising and eliminated most flavors in response to concerns by government officials and others.  (AP Photo/Samantha Maldonado, File) [SAMANTHA MALDONADO  |  AP]
  5. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) [MATT ROURKE  |  AP]
  6. The Clearwater council recently voted to buy 13 Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicles for $374,000, or about $28,770 apiece.
  7. Airbnb app on a phone: The company faces a fight with regulators.
  8. In this Feb. 19 photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. [JOHN LOCHER  |  AP]
  9. Melody Keeth, the former chair of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, testifies in the Florida House on Monday about how she and the board approved $7.5M in compensation to the nonprofit's former CEO. [Florida Channel]
  10. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign event on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) [NICK WAGNER  |  AP]
  11. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. speaks at a campaign event in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 22, 2020. [CEDAR ATTANASIO  |  AP]
  12. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]