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  1. Florida Politics

Attorney general candidates look past primary with eye toward Bondi

Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is unopposed in the Aug. 26 primary. The two Democrats vying to face her in the November general election lag far behind in campaign contributions.
Published Jul. 9, 2014

In the state attorney general race, Democrats still must choose between George Sheldon and Perry Thurston in the Aug. 26 primary.

But nevermind that contest. For now at least, both candidates are focusing on the opponent who awaits — Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Thurston, a state representative from Fort Lauderdale and the outgoing minority leader, on Tuesday launched a website: bondis bungles.com.

The website header mocks Bondi with a tagline "Yeah, I said that" against a black-and-white photo of Bondi. Highlights include her stances against gay marriage, voting rights for felons, the Affordable Care Act and a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

The website classifies each as a "bungle" and will add more in the coming weeks, said Zachary Meunier, Thurston's campaign manager.

The website encourages visitors to share the "bungles" on Facebook and Twitter.

At times, it gets personal. It calls out Bondi's defense of Florida's gay marriage ban as hypocritical because of her two divorces. It highlights her comments about her dad getting her an internship and juxtaposes that against the tight job market for recent college graduates.

"Bet Floridians wished Pam Bondi's dad got them all jobs, too."

That's a clumsy attack line, considering Bondi's dad died last year.

Meanwhile, Sheldon, former secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families, periodically sends out email blasts to reporters bashing Bondi.

On June 28, he sent out an email that declared she was "on the wrong side of history" because of her intervention on two cases challenging Florida's ban gay marriage.

The email touts Sheldon's record on voting against the state's ban on gay adoption when he was a Tampa representative in the Florida House in 1977. The email then gives a link to his campaign and requests $25 contributions.

He and Thurston will need it. Both lag far behind Bondi in contributions. And she doesn't have to worry about an opponent in the primary. Sheldon has raised $263,000, but already spent all but $10,000 of that. Thurston has raised $152,000 and already spent $100,000.

Bondi? Aside from her own campaign account, which has raised $1.4 million (and spent only $75,000), Bondi has two committees raising funds for a combined $1.7 million (and spent only $126,000).

And in the race for governor

The Democratic Governors Association has funneled $500,000 to Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor now running as a Democrat against GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

The donation allowed Crist's political committee to raise more cash from June 21 to 27 than Scott and Scott's political committee, reports show. Candidates and their affiliated committees must now provide reports weekly.

The Crist committee — Charlie Crist for Florida — raised $625,150 during the seven-day period, including the money from the governors association, compared to the $262,000 Scott's committee — Let's Get to Work — raised during the same period. Crist's committee has raised a total of $9.34 million this election so far, compared to Scott's committee, which has raised a total of $28.85 million.

Scott continues his fundraising edge over Crist, however. Scott raised $253,237 during the June 21 to 27 period, for a total of $5.5 million, compared to Crist who raised $62,910 during the period, bringing his total to $3.96 million.

Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

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