Riding the Republican wave, Tampa's Pam Bondi blows out Dan Gelber in Attorney General race

Some of Dan Gelber's biggest supporters admitted over the weekend that they were always underdog to Pam Bondi, the longtime Hillsborough County Assistant Prosecutor and spokeswoman, and in recent years, a big presence on cable news.

Add to it that she was an attractive female based in the I-4 corridor and running in a position that might seem to favor Republicans in a wave election, and the task was even harder.  And the fact that only one debate was seen by any voters, and well, perhaps that puts in perspective the fact that Bondi beat Gelber Tuesday night, 55%-41%.  Independent Jim Lewis got close to 4%.

“I pledge to make our families safer and our neighborhoods more secure, and to be a vigilant watchdog on behalf of Florida’s consumers and taxpayers,” said Bondi to more than two hundred attendees and dozens of media at her victory party in Tampa.  “I also look forward to continuing Florida’s leadership in the fight against the federal healthcare takeover.”

Speaking to CL earlier in the day, Bondi elaborated on why she wants to continue to pursue the lawsuit against the federal health care bill, saying, "I will take it (the lawsuit) to the Supreme Court.  I'm proud that Florida has taken the lead.  19 other Attorneys General throughout the country have joined in with us.  (Attorney General) Ken Cuccinelli has a separate lawsuit in Virginia on a different issue, I'm in constant contact with him as well, and I'm proud that Florida is a leader in this health care issue.  And we all know that we need health care reform, but this is not the way to do it.  It's going to put our state in excess of a billion dollars in debt, and we have to have a balanced budget, but more than that, it's unconstitutional, and as chief legal officer I would wholeheartedly continue that fight all the way to the Supreme Court."

In defeat, Democrat Dan Gelber told his supporters in Miami Beach tonight, "Politics is often about timing.  The headwind was too unrelenting. "

He later issued a statement in conceding to Bondi, saying,

“I congratulate Pam Bondi on her victory. Our state faces very serious challenges, and it is my hope that Ms. Bondi will move our state in a new direction. We need to clean up Tallahassee and stop the partisan political games that have distracted many candidates and elected officials from the true task at hand - protecting Floridians and moving our state forward.

“These are the ideals that I fought for in this election and throughout my career in public service as a federal prosecutor, chief investigator in the US Senate, and elected leader in the Florida Legislature. It has been an honor to represent my country and the great state of Florida, and I look forward to continuing my service in a new way moving forward. I am very grateful for the support we received from Floridians all across the state, and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication.”

Dan Gelber is a good man and an extremely talented public official now out of office for the first time in a decade.  In another election cycle, he remains one of the Democratic party of Florida's most valuable players.


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