1. Florida Politics

Democrats Sheldon and Thurston hope one drops attorney general bid

Published Oct. 29, 2013

Although they announced they were running for the Democratic nod for Florida attorney general in the same week, George Sheldon and Perry Thurston swear they won't become bitter rivals.

"If we stay in the race, it will be positive," said Sheldon, who until recently worked as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families.

"A primary isn't the best thing for the party, and I'm a party guy," said Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, who is the Democratic leader in the Florida House. "I know the party will make the right decision."

But the race to challenge incumbent Pam Bondi hasn't begun yet and they are already disagreeing about what exactly the two talked about when they spoke by phone last week before the Florida Democratic State Conference in Orlando.

Sheldon, who announced Oct. 21 that he was running for attorney general, said Thurston called him and the two spoke for about five to 10 minutes on Thursday. Subsequently, on Saturday, Thurston announced at the convention that he was running for the position.

"I would rather have known he was announcing to run when we talked," said Sheldon, 66. "I had thought he had ruled it out. His announcement caught quite a few of us by surprise."

Thurston, however, said he told Sheldon during the phone chat that he was running for attorney general.

"I'm pretty clear; I don't stutter or mumble," said Thurston, 52. "I told him I was running."

Thurston said he will officially file by the end of the week. Sheldon filed to run last week.

After that, it could all wrap up soon. Thurston said it's not likely both will remain in the race through the primary. He said he expects Florida Democratic leaders, such as chairwoman Allison Tant, executive director Scott Arceneaux and political director Christian Ulvert, to persuade one of the two to drop out and save the party a primary fight. "I'm sure we'll be having a discussion," Thurston said.

Immigration bills

As immigration reform advocates spread across Capitol Hill on Tuesday, they got a boost from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen when she signed onto a comprehensive bill in the House.

The Miami lawmaker became the second Republican (the first was Rep. Jeff Denham of California) to back the Democratic bill, which resembles the package passed earlier this year by the Senate, replacing the massive border security amendment (Corker-Hoeven) with something a House panel approved. "It's important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

Ros-Lehtinen has moved toward a comprehensive bill as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has moved away from the Senate bill he helped write.


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