Last month Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined 20 other conservative Attorneys General and took the side of corporate lobbyists in opposition to an historic agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.The Sunshine State's AG filed a brief opposing the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, which sets pollution limits that have been agreed upon by six states in the region and the federal government as a pathway toward restoring the damaged ecosystem.
Original opposition to the pact came last fall from the American Farm Bureau Federation, who has called the fed's intervention "a power grab." They filed a lawsuit earlier this year after losing a bid to stop the project.
The man who hopes to challenge Bondi this fall in her bid for re-election, Democrat George Sheldon, says Bondi has no business getting involved with a lawsuit emanating over 900 miles from the state capitol.
"It would jeopardize what we're doing in the Everglades," he adds, augmenting the assertion that it's arguably none of Florida's business what the feds are doing with another state's waterways.
Sheldon calls Bondi's intervention yet another case of her putting partisan politics over the best interests of Floridians.
"I don't think the Attorney General's office should be used for a political platform," he says. "And every Attorney General from Bob Butterworth to Bob Shevin before that, Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, it really stayed above the political fray when it came to their office."
Sheldon is running in the most contested primary cabinet race this year, the Democratic nomination for AG, where he is being challenged by Florida House Minority leader Perry Thurston. The two have been careful not to criticize each other so far, keeping their aim pointed directly at the failings of the GOP incumbent.
Speaking at a fundraiser held at King Corona Cigars in Ybor City on Wednesday evening, Sheldon was optimistic about his chances against Bondi, whom he acknowledges he'll never catch up to when it comes to campaign donations. He attributes that partly to being out of design, saying "I don't think we should be taking money from people who potentially you could be litigating with," but insists he'll have a sufficient amount to remain competitive. He also says he's done fundraisers in both Los Angeles and New York City, where he tells people that if they care about Florida going blue in 2016, they need to invest in Democrats in 2014.
Sheldon is trying to appeal not only to core Democrats, but also to those independents and moderate Republicans whom he says are without a party to call their own in Florida in 2014. In fact, he says he's soon to announce a "Republicans for Sheldon" event.
Sheldon has a lengthy biography as a public servant in Florida, including stints at DCF and under the aforementioned Butterworth in the AG's office. He downplays concerns echoed as recently as last week by President Obama
that Democrats don't come out to vote in midterm elections.
"You're going to have a strong governor's race between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. I think that's going to bring people out," he insists. "Medical marijuana is going to bring people out. And I think there's going to be an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort."