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GOP rejoices as Bondi announces re-election bid

BY JAMES L. ROSICA
Tribune staff

Published:   |   Updated: July 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM

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TALLAHASSEE -- Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi will run for a second term, news that has the state Democratic Party squirming and the Republican faithful cheering.

"Republicans across Florida are thrilled that Attorney General Pam Bondi has decided to run for re-election," said Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. "Florida is a better place for families to live and work because of her leadership on issues like fraud and waste, human trafficking, drugs, and transparency.''

Bondi, a lifelong Hillsborough County resident and fourth-generation Floridian, has been a popular chief legal officer for the state, but the party chair of the Florida Democratic Party said she's optimistic.

"Florida Democrats are committed to winning up and down the ballot in 2014, and taking back the attorney general's office is especially important to us," said Allison Tant, Florida Democratic Party chairwoman.

"I am incredibly excited about some of the potential candidates I have met with in the past few months," she added, but didn't disclose who they were. "We are going to give Florida voters a strong alternative to Tea Partiers like Rick Scott and Pam Bondi."

Bondi, 47, most recently made pop-culture headlines by opining to Hollywood gossip website TMZ that former pro-footballer Chad Johnson didn't deserve a 30-day punishment for slapping his male attorney's behind in open court. Johnson was in court in Broward County on a domestic violence charge; he later apologized and served only a week.

On that same site, Bondi also leads California Attorney General Kamala Harris 61-39 percent in a "who's hotter?" poll -- though the actual poll title is more overt.

And Bondi posted on her Twitter feed a photo of herself with actor Jeffrey Donovan, star of the USA Network series "Burn Notice" that is filmed in and around Miami.

"Enjoyed visiting set a few wks ago," she wrote.

Bondi, a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, beat Democrat Dan Gelber in 2010 with nearly 55 percent of the vote. She first became well known as a legal analyst on national news programs, and the Temple Terrace native is the only woman now in statewide elected office in Florida.

Bondi's is also known for her lead role in the multistate lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare."

Florida, eventually joined by 26 other states, sued the federal government in 2010, claiming that the ACA's mandate for individuals to buy their own health insurance was unconstitutional.

In 2012, however, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate.

Bondi also has crusaded against human trafficking and prescription drug abuse. Florida is known for "pill mills," pain-management clinics that illegally supply drug dealers and addicts with prescription painkillers.

Bondi supported legislation penalizing physicians who overprescribe painkillers and revamping operating and recordkeeping rules for pharmacies.

More recently, she joined 22 other attorneys general in a successful effort that shamed hipster-fashion retailer Urban Outfitters into discontinuing a line of housewares that looked like prescription pads and pill bottles.

Bondi also has taken on the mission of identifying buried remains at a now-closed boys' reform school in the Panhandle. She sought permission to exhume bodies at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Former students have alleged that beatings and other abuse happened at the school, open from 1900-2011, and many boys died needlessly.

Her 2010 win was her first run for elected office and she hadn't been significantly involved in Republican Party politics. Before that, Bondi spent two decades as a prosecutor in Hillsborough County and also served as spokeswoman for the same State Attorney's Office.

jrosica@tampatrib.com

(850) 765-0807

Twitter: @jlrosicaTBO

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