Matchup set in Fla. AG race

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 25, 2010, 3:45pm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Sen. Dan Gelber captured the Democratic nomination for state attorney general in Tuesday's primary, while Republican and political newcomer Pam Bondi accepted the GOP nomination.

Gelber told The Associated Press he was grateful for his win over state Sen. Dave Aronberg and said a priority for him is making sure Florida gets "everything it deserves from BP" in the complicated legal wranglings over the Gulf oil spill.

Late Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp conceded to Bondi, who had never run for office before. The two rivals were ahead of a third Republican candidate, Holly Benson. Benson is a former state representative from Pensacola who's served as secretary of both the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Health Care Administration under Gov. Charlie Crist.

All three Republican candidates have promised to carry on a federal lawsuit seeking to block the federal health care program if elected, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Gelber called the lawsuit a political ploy and said the attorney general should focus on rooting out corruption and protecting children from sexual predators.

Gelber, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the House, served as chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate's investigations committee, focusing mainly on terrorism and domestic security.

Bondi, a 44-year-old former Tampa prosecutor and frequent commentator on Fox News, got a boost this week with an endorsement -- and robo-call to prospective voters -- from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The former vice presidential candidate called Bondi a bold leader able to "push back against any overreach of the federal government."

Bondi was registered as a Democrat for decades before switching parties.

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