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Politics

AG Candidates Fight for Attention

September 30, 2010 - 6:00pm

The two leading candidates in the close contest to become Floridas next attorney general scrambled Friday to gain attention from voters who are focused on other races -- including the tight gubernatorial race, the dramatic U.S. Senate battle and several interesting congressional contests.

Former Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi, the Republican candidate for attorney general, unveiled the backing of 25 current and former sheriffs. These sheriffs included Kevin Rambosk of Collier County, David Gee of Hillsborough County, Larry Campbell of Leon County, Jim Coats of Pinellas County, Grady Judd of Polk County, Tom Knight of Sarasota County and David Shoar of St. Johns County.

"As a prosecutor, my mission was usually to finish the good work started by our sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies, and it will be an honor to continue to work with them as Floridas next attorney general," said Bondi. "I am confident that our long history of working together will be the basis for a great partnership in protecting our kids, seniors, and consumers."

"Pam Bondi is an experienced prosecutor who has stood up for our community against gang activity, violent criminals, and people looking to take advantage of our seniors and children," said Gee. "We need an attorney general like Pam who has spent her career on the front lines fighting crime and will be the kind of leader on whom Florida's law enforcement can depend."

Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Bondis Democratic opponent, campaigned in his rivals backyard Friday, focusing in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa on pill mills.

Prescription-drug abuse in Florida has become an epidemic, largely fueled by pill mills and doctor shopping, said Gelber, who noted that a bill he sponsored on the matter took effect Friday. As attorney general, I intend to shut these operations down through aggressive enforcement, coordination with local government and law enforcement, and strong, common-sense regulation.

Gelber called for more cooperation between state and local authorities, legislation mandating that doctors run pain-management clinics, and greater outreach. Gelbers team noted that almost 2,500 people in Florida passed away in 2009 due to overdosing on prescription drugs.

These pill mills have infiltrated our local communities, creating a breeding ground for illegal activity and drug abuse that has already taken the lives of thousands of Floridians, said Gelber. The loss of even one life is one too many, and I will take aggressive action to prevent more tragedies from occurring in the future.

Bondi has also pledged to crack down on "pill mills" if she is elected in November.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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