Pam Bondi says opposition to gay marriage not personal vendetta

Published Sept. 6, 2014

Just because Attorney General Pam Bondi has aggressively fought in court against opponents of Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, don't assume it has anything to do with her own views.

"I have many, many gay friends," the Tampa Republican said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. She noted that she took pictures during the baptism of a gay friend's adopted daughter.

"I put my hand on a Bible. I raised my other hand, and I swore to uphold the Constitution of the state of Florida. The voters by over 60 percent six years ago put this in our Constitution," Bondi said, when asked about the nine other attorneys general who have declined to defend their state's bans on gay marriage.

She did appear to acknowledge that some of her office's legal briefs that offended gay Floridians could have been worded better.

"I can tell you now I'm reading every word of every brief that's being written," said Bondi, who is being challenged by Democrat George Sheldon.

Tweet of the week

"William Winston Weatherford has arrived! 7lbs 8 ounces. Mommy is healthy and happy. God is good! #dadlife"

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, on Friday announcing the birth of his and wife Courtney's fourth child.

Incumbent's misstep

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, already faces a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham. It didn't help the incumbent when BuzzFeed last week reported that in March Southerland held a men-only fundraiser.

The invite instructed attendees to "tell the misses not to wait up" because "the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many … Good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink date back to the 12th Century with King Arthur's Round Table."

Race for governor

Buzz checked out a Q&A session last week with the executive directors of the Florida Republican and Democratic parties, Juston Johnson and Scott Arceneaux, respectively, at a Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists conference in Tampa. Quick takeaways:

• One word. Johnson swears that the GOP's focus groups consistently show the most common word that comes to mind when asked about Rick Scott is "Jobs." For Charlie Crist? "Tan."

• The stoner vote. Both men dismissed the notion that the Amendment 2 medical marijuana initiative will drive up turnout among young voters who could help Crist. Said Arceneaux: "Somebody's got to put real money behind Amendment 2 to communicate with real voters. … I don't know if that's going to happen or not."

• Recent polling trends. Johnson noted that eight of the last nine public polls have shown Scott leading and tied with Crist, and ballots are going to start being cast in a few weeks so the recent trends "make us feel even better about where we are."

• Turnout, turnout, turnout: "If I were sitting in Scott's shoes I would be terrified about the turnout," Johnson said, and Arceneaux pretty much agreed. The Democrat noted that Broward turnout has been lousy in recent years. "Broward keeps me up at night," he said.

• Running mates. Both executive directors agreed that the nominees for lieutenant governor have almost no bearing on who wins. "Maybe on the margins," Johnson said, but "nobody knows who either one of them are."

Arceneaux said people pick their running mate for a variety of reasons. "There are things like money. … There are things like interest groups, there are all kinds of reasons. But they are not a big vote-driver."

• Pinellas County and Tampa Bay. Asked about Crist coattails helping Democratic candidates in Pinellas, Johnson dismissed the notion and suggested that Crist is spending too much time in South Florida: "I think Charlie may be taking his home area for granted a little bit."

Arceneaux predicted that Crist would do better than Alex Sink did in the area.

Jeb headlining event

For the many Jeb Bush fans hoping he runs for president in 2016, here's a hint pointing in that direction. Bush is scheduled to headline a Sept. 23 fundraiser in Tampa that could raise $1 million for Republican U.S. Senate candidates who could prove helpful to any future presidential contender: Cory Gardner in Colorado, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Monica Wehby in Oregon, Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Dan Sullivan in Alaska.