Tied for #12 on the 2014 SaintPetersBlog list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians is probably the “oddest couple” you can find — Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi and former GOP governor and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.
St. Petersburg native Crist didn’t make the list last year, simply because he wasn’t a “politician” at the time, instead occupied as a lawyer for his friend and advocate John Morgan. Crist’s tanned face, in what would appear in hindsight as a brilliant piece of political theater, graced Morgan & Morgan billboards all over Tampa Bay. Making it even more prescient was the ad’s slogan — “For the People”— which applies to the populist candidate now more than ever.
Facing an unpopular Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 will still be a challenge, especially with $100 million the governor claims to have at his disposal. But if anyone can do it, it’s Crist. And many observers, even some detractors, say Crist has better-than-even chances he will win his old job back in Tallahassee.
On the other side of the spectrum, but no less influential, is Republican Bondi, a newcomer to the 2014 list. Before becoming Attorney General in 2010, Bondi had been an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit, serving under five state attorneys (including the current one, Mark Ober).
Bondi made her mark in Tallahassee by successfully championing landmark legislation to stop the state’s infamous “pill mills.” She banned MDPVs, otherwise known as “bath salts,” and helped reverse automatic restoration of the rights of felons — a move that set Democrats aflame with anger.
The AG has also crusaded on jobs licensing, safety and fairness as well as curbing federal government overreach, most recently by joining a lawsuit of 21 states against the Environmental Protection Agency over regulations on wastewater flowing into Chesapeake Bay.
In addition, Bondi has proved to be an astute politico — choosing to attend a Tampa Bay fundraiser over the execution of a convicted murderer notwithstanding — by raising far more campaign cash for her 2014 re-election than any of her Democratic opponents (combined!)
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel which assembled it, please read here.