Aronberg & Gelber play nice in front of College Hill audience in Tampa

Aronberg also spent time at the beginning of the debate bashing the current AG, Bill McCollum, on issues like not having a very diverse office.


On the restoration of civil rights for ex-felons, both candidates discussed the extensive backlog that currently exists.  "That's just wrong," Gelber said, adding, that the Civil Rights Division in the Attorney General's office has been depleted.


Gelber gave praise to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who said once that if you want to stop crime, you give children tools like nutrition, education and a loving family.  "I'm not going to run around the state, saying 'lock them up,' I'm going to run around the state saying,'pay for the education today, so that they don't have any problems tomorrow.  Give them the nutrition they need now, take care of our people, and they will take care of each other."


Although both candidates have decried so-called 527 independent groups that can spend unlimited amounts in a political campaign, both said they were not being hypocritical for enjoying the financial help that they can provide in their current campaign.


"I'm willing to disarm, but not unilaterally disarmament, "Aronberg said. "Unilateral disarmament gets you killed.  Because when the Republicans are raising huge unbundled money....you have to be able to defend yourself."  Aronberg said he has tried to pass legislation that would kill such groups, but said they went nowhere in the GOP-led Legislature.  Gelber essentially agreed.

With just 11 days to go in the Florida Democratic Primary, over half of those surveyed in a recent Mason/Dixon poll of Democrats say they don't have a preference in the Dan Gelber/Dave Aronberg race.

That's why every audience and every vote is important, as the South Florida legislators flew into Tampa yesterday afternoon for debate held by the Hillsborough Democratic Black Caucus at the First Baptist Church in College Hill in East Tampa.

Although they have been feuding in the press and in competing ads, the two seemed to be getting along fine last night in the somewhat stuffy room, attended by over 100 people.

In the one hour debate, the two differed only on a few issues.  For star endorsement power, Aronberg broke out Alan Crotzer, who was exonerated in 2006 after spending 24 years in prison for rape he did not commit.  In 2008, he was awarded $1.25 million for his time in prison, in a bill that was sponsored by Aronberg.

Issues regarding the criminal justice system was front and center in the debate, as Aronberg several times said he wouldn't be afraid of "speaking truth to power," in bringing social justice to the AG's position.

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