Freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., took his name out of contention in the race to replace Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who faces term limits in 2018, and threw his support to Ashley Moody, a former judge based in Hillsborough County.
Despite jumping from the Florida House to Congress last year, Gaetz had been the subject of speculation in the attorney general’s race. Moody announced the endorsement on Thursday.
“We're thrilled to announce the endorsement of Congressman Matt Gaetz," Moody announced on Facebook before praising the Panhandle Republican. “Congressman Gaetz is recognized in Florida and nationally as a true conservative leader, an advocate for smaller, more efficient government, and a zealous defender of our Second Amendment. He is an outspoken supporter of our law enforcement community working for years to support their mission of keeping our state safe. I am greatly honored to have his endorsement and help on our campaign.”
“Florida needs an attorney general with the experience to make headway against the dangers we face as Floridians, the courage to stand up for law enforcement, and the fortitude to defend our constitutional rights,” Gaetz said to SaintPetersBlog which first reported on the endorsement. “I’m proud to endorse Ashley Moody who with her years of experience as a prosecutor and judge will bring insight and fresh perspective to the incredibly important role of attorney general.”
Moody does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination as state Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, is also in the race. On the Democratic side, attorney Ryan Torrens has entered the race. So far Torrens is the only Democrat running for attorney general though attorney Mitchell Berger, who has raised money for the party, has opened the door to getting in the race. Attorney Bill Wohlsifer, who was the Libertarian Party’s candidate in 2014 when he pulled 3 percent in the general election, could opt for a second bid for attorney general.