Citrus County Chronicle: Florida attorney general race - Dan Gelber is the clear choice

Oct 8, 2010

Editorial Board

The Chronicle

The race for Florida attorney general has two excellent candidates in Republican Pam Bondi, 44, of Tampa and Democrat Dan Gelber, 49, of Miami. However, a head-to-head comparison clearly distinguishes Gelber as the best qualified to represent the interests of Floridians.

Both candidates are well-prepared academically for the office. Bondi graduated from the University of Florida with a Criminal Justice degree and from Stetson Law School. Gelber, a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Florida Law School, was a Harry S. Truman Scholar, who, as a selectee, had to not only demonstrate intellect and leadership but also the potential to be a force for the public good.

Following law school, both entered into public service. Rising through the ranks during her 18-year career as an assistant state attorney with the 13th Judicial Circuit based in Tampa, Bondi has managed staff attorneys and the budget for one of the largest state attorney offices in Florida. Her prosecutorial experience has ranged from initially trying drunk driving cases to consumer fraud and capital murder cases. A recognized criminal law expert, she has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC as a legal analyst.

Gelber began his legal career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida as one of the youngest federal prosecutors in the nation, where he prosecuted public corruption and civil rights cases for close to a decade. Selected by former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn to serve as chief counsel and staff director to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he investigated domestic and foreign terrorist activities until his return to Florida in 1996 as a partner with a private law firm.

Bondi and Gelber share some common policy ground. Both would make the combating of Medicaid fraud, prescription “pill mills” and gangs a priority. However, they stand on different ground when it comes to politically charged policies. While Bondi supports Florida’s lawsuit against the federal health care reform measure, Arizona’s immigration law and a gay adoption ban, Gelber adamantly opposes them.

Though Bondi has never held elected office, Gelber has a record of significant legislative accomplishments as a state representative and state senator. He rose through the ranks to become the House minority leader. He pushed the closing of tax loopholes for high-end developers and multi-state corporations. And, he successfully sponsored legislation providing for criminal penalties for official misconduct, misuse of official position and bid tampering.

Bondi makes the case that being a political outsider is a strength that she brings to the office. However, reality dictates otherwise. As attorney general, first-hand knowledge in the workings of the Legislature and state government is indispensable. Also, being schooled in diverse policy issues is important, since the attorney general is a member of the state Cabinet. In this regard, Gelber has the clear edge.

While Bondi has a solid assistant state attorney record, Gelber’s extensive experience and leadership roles as a federal prosecutor and state legislator make him the clear choice for Florida attorney general.

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Political advertisement paid for and approved by Dan Gelber.