Although George Sheldon is definitely an underdog going into his matchup with Pam Bondi for Attorney General this fall, there's no doubt that, on substance, Sheldon will be a formidable challenger to the GOP incumbent. The issue some pundits suggest will be his Achilles heel is his inability to match financial resources with Bondi, who has become a national star thanks in part to her frequent appearances on the Fox News Channel that preceded her election in 2010.
In the interim, Sheldon is going all-out to show that he can be a better — and certainly less partisan — Attorney General. In an appeal to centrists, Sheldon today announced the formation of a political committee that he's calling "Floridians Seeking Common Ground', which will be co-chaired by former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Quincy Police Chief Walt McNeil, who has previously served as secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections and as president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Our mission is to make government work again and to focus more attention on issues and solutions to problems where there is broad agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Sheldon said in a statement.
As examples of that, Sheldon cites early childhood education and programs that divert people from a path toward criminal behavior instead of just locking people up. “We know that we can make a huge positive difference in people’s lives through early intervention in the lives of young people who are at risk because of poverty or troubled family lives,” said Sheldon. “Bob Butterworth knows that from being a sheriff, a judge, an attorney general, and secretary of Children and Families. Walt McNeil knows that from being head of our Department of Juvenile Justice and head of our prison system.”
Sheldon also mentions the environment, angst about energy policy and medical marijuana.
Sheldon added, “People in both parties care about our environment, about assuring supplies of clean water to support our growing population, about our clean air and beautiful beaches that attract millions of tourists each year, about restoring the Everglades and other environmentally sensitive parts of our beautiful state. Common ground also means protecting consumers by keeping utility companies and financial institutions in check. It means listening to doctors and scientists on policies like medical marijuana and climate change.”
That last reference to medical marijuana has been something that Sheldon has been talking up on the campaign trail for much of this year. Bondi has been unequivocal in her opposition to Amendment Two, the constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would legalize medical-marijuana in Florida. Polls show the measure has a strong chance of success in November.