George Sheldon announces “Republicans for Sheldon”

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Democratic Attorney General Candidate George Sheldon Tuesday announced a new committee to reach out to Republicans.  He tabbed a former special assistant U.S. Attorney and former advisor to President Gerald Ford, Benton Becker, and former Associated Industries Vice President Mary Ann Stiles as co-chairs of the Sheldon Bipartisan Committee.

“I think there are a lot Republicans in this state who are moderate on things like the environment, on things like human services (and) things like civil rights,” said Sheldon. “We are going to be reaching out to them.”

Sheldon explained he named the committee bipartisan because t state law forbids the use of the terms “Republican” or “Democrat” without permission from the party.

Stiles explained that she and Sheldon battled on opposite side of regulations issues in the 1970s when Sheldon was a Tampa area representative. She said despite their philosophical differences concerning legislation they forged a friendship and she thinks he is better suited for the job then incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“He has more experience. He can bring both sides together,” said Stiles, a corporate lawyer and legislative counsel for a number of companies. “I am looking for a candidate that can bring us together so that we can talk across the aisle and make things happen.”

Stiles echoed Sheldon’s earlier statements that Bondi’s focus on high profile issues is not in the best interest of Floridians. She cited Bondi’s repeated challenge of same-sex marriage rulings, intervention in a Chesapeake Bay legal case and opposition to abortion rights for her support of Sheldon.

Earlier this year, Bondi filed a brief in support of a lawsuit seeking to block a six-state agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint seeks to limit the amount of pollution dumped into the bay and is opposed by agricultural and development issues.

Bondi’s involvement in the case caught the attention of Carlos M. de la Cruz, past president of Eagle Brands and a member of the Bipartisan Committee. Cruz, a past chairman of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe counties, a community based care organization for children, first met Sheldon when Sheldon was Secretary of Department of Children and Families.

He too cited Bondi’s challenge of states working together on clean water issues as troubling.

“When we’re having issues in Florida – the Everglades restoration is the most expensive ecosystem restoration project in the world and frankly to try to make it more expensive is not a good deal for the citizens,” said Cruz.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday showed Bondi with an 8-point lead over Sheldon, 43 percent to 35 percent with Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlsifer at 6 percent

Shortly before Sheldon’s news conference the Bondi campaign sent out an email accepting an invitation for an October debate of the two Attorney General candidates.

Details have yet to be released.