George Sheldon, who served as secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families under Gov. Charlie Crist, said Monday he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Sheldon on Friday quit his $179,000 job as the assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families in Washington. In a 10-hour drive on Saturday, Sheldon said he called potential donors to raise the money he’ll need to take on Bondi, who has already raised $1.4 million.
“I’ve got to be competitive from a dollar standpoint,” Sheldon said. “I can’t be outspent 3-1, or even 2-1.”
A former legislative aide to then-state senator Reubin Askew, Sheldon served in the Legislature from 1974 to 1982. He served as deputy attorney general for former Attorney General Bob Butterworth from 1999 to 2002. He ran against Crist in 2000 for Education Commissioner and lost. In 2000, he ran for Attorney General but came in third in the Democratic primary, which was won by Buddy Dyer, who is now the Orlando mayor. Dyer lost to Crist.
“Now he’s a Democrat,” Sheldon joked. “It’s ironic that I ran against Charlie and then later served as his secretary (of DCF).”
Sheldon said he’s announcing now because he wants to take advantage of this weekend’s Florida Democratic Party State Conference, where he will be introduced as a speaker by his former boss, Butterworth.
Sheldon, 66, said he'll make Bondi's opposition of the Affordable Care Act and concerns raised about her fundraising top issues in his campaign.
"I clearly think that Pam Bondi hasn't shown a serious approach to her job that I think she should," Sheldon said.
Here's his statement:
"This past Friday I officially resigned as Assistant Secretary
for the United States Department of Health and Human Services and today I am
announcing my candidacy for Attorney General for Florida.
"As Deputy Attorney General for Bob Butterworth I know the
potential that office holds for protecting our families and taking on any one or
any corporation that would threaten us.
"Taking on predatory lenders, human traffickers, and those who
engage in deceptive practices is the job of the Attorney General…not working
full time trying to deny health insurance to children and anyone with
"This race is about character. Who has the experience and
character to use the office of attorney general for general good rather than as
a personal, political, partisan platform.
"I hope you agree that my experience in Florida’s Attorney
General office, serving as Secretary of Children and Families in Florida, and as
Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services
allows me to serve as Florida’s Attorney General.
"I’m proud that children and families have been in my job
title for almost a decade and that protecting has been a job description.
"It is time to restore integrity in the Attorney General
office. Together we can do it. I ask for your vote, your help, your time and
your prayers. Together we can restore character to the office of attorney
Upon the announcement, Bondi's campaign manager, Pablo Diaz, released a statement.
Attorney General, Pam Bondi has fought hard to defend and protect the people by
making Florida a zero tolerance state for pill mills, taking on human
trafficking, and pursuing consumer relief from both, mortgage and Medicaid
Pam Bondi and
George Sheldon have very different credentials and points of view, and we
welcome the opportunity to show the voters in Florida that they will have a
clear choice between two distinctly different candidates."
Sheldon provided this bio:
Assistant Secretary for children and Families, US Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Services, 2011-13
Florida Department of Children and Families, 2010-12
Secretary for Operations, Florida Department of Children and Families, 2009-10
Dean, St. Thomas University Law School, 2003-09
Taylor, Grace, 2002-2003
Attorney General for Central Florida, 1999-2002
Cusick and Associates, 1987-99
Freedman, Hirsch and Levinson, 1982-87
Representative, District 69 representing Tampa, 1974-82
Director, Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, 1973-75
to the Deputy Secretary, Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative
Aide to then-Senator Reubin Askew, 1969-70