With early voting well underway for the August Primaries, a group of Black Senators and Representatives is picking Aramis Ayala in the competitive Democratic Primary for Attorney General.
The legislators endorsing Ayala, a former State Attorney from Orlando, hail from all metro regions of the state, and include State Sens. Randolph Bracy of Orlando, Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville, Shevrin Jones of Miami Gardens, Rosalind Osgood of Ft. Lauderdale and Bobby Powell of Palm Beach County.
Powell and Gibson are both former leaders of the Senate Democrats, with Powell having just wrapped up his service in the last Legislative Session, and Gibson immediately preceding.
Jones offered a statement explaining his choice.
“I am thrilled to endorse Aramis Ayala for Attorney General because she is experienced, battle-tested, and undoubtedly the Democrat who can build the coalition needed to win statewide in November. Just as she has throughout her life, she will hit the ground running to build safer communities, combat rising hate and extremism, and protect the fundamental freedoms of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ Floridians. We can count on Aramis to always fight for us,” he contended.
Members of the Florida House from South Florida also back Ayala, including Reps. Christopher Benjamin, Kevin Chambliss, Jervonte Edmonds, Dotie Joseph, Felicia Robinson, Patricia Williams, and Marie Woodson.
“Aramis Ayala is the only Democratic candidate for AG who has walked the walk and talked the talk for her entire career — we can trust she will stand up for us, no matter what. From securing voting rights and safeguarding our democracy, to taking on price-gouging corporations, to protecting consumers from predatory scams, Aramis is committed to increasing transparency, accountability, and public trust in government. She knows the law inside and out and will serve the people well as our next Attorney General,” Robinson said.
While South Florida legislators made up a majority of the endorsements, other major names from elsewhere in the state rallied to Ayala, including Democratic leader-designate Fentrice Driskell of North Tampa.
“Aramis Ayala is an effective and experienced attorney and a proven fighter for everyday Floridians — a quality sorely lacking in the Attorney General’s Office today. The people need an AG who will fight for them rather than serving the Governor’s personal interests. We have an opportunity to tackle the political corruption that continues to disadvantage everyday people. The pursuit of real justice for all is what motivates Aramis, and I know she will be a relentless voice for Floridians as the People’s Attorney General,” Driskell said.
Reps. Dianne Hart and Michele Rayner, representing Tampa and St. Petersburg respectively, also back Ayala.
“As a longtime public defender and voice for the voiceless, Aramis Ayala has a 360-degree view of public safety and the justice system’s shortcomings. She advanced impactful reforms to boost law enforcement accountability, reduce recidivism, and increase support for victims of domestic violence during her time as State Attorney and will take that same innovative approach to the role of Attorney General,” Hart said.
“With our most fundamental freedoms under attack, this moment calls for leaders who understand what is at stake, bring perspective on where we’ve been, and have the vision to take us forward,” Rayner added. “Aramis Ayala is that person. I enthusiastically back her campaign and am confident Aramis has what it takes to not only defeat Gov. DeSantis’ lawyer Ashley Moody this fall, but also restore the power back where it belongs: the people.”
Others supporting her include Reps. Kamia Brown of Ocoee, Tracie Davis of Jacksonville, Yvonne Hayes Hinson of Gainesville, Travaris McCurdy of Orlando, and Geraldine Thompson of Windermere.
The endorsements are interestingly timed here, with one of Ayala’s opponents clearly winning the fundraising war. Santa Rosa Beach lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder is carrying $160,000 cash in hand into the stretch run of the campaign, a sum bolstered by campaign matching funds that neither Ayala or the third candidate in the field, Jim Lewis, accessed.
Ayala, a former State Attorney from Orlando, raised $2,313 and spent $4,378 during the week ending Aug. 5, closing the week with a little more than $15,000 on hand.
Lewis, a lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, hasn’t accepted a campaign contribution since March. He has under $2,000 on hand.
No matter which of these three Democrats prevails, the well-funded Ashley Moody awaits in the General Election. With no Primary challenger, the entrenched incumbent from Plant City continued to pad her campaign coffers in the week ending Aug. 5, raising nearly $35,000 between her campaign account and her political committee, Friends of Ashley Moody.
Moody’s committee has nearly $5 million cash on hand, while the campaign account has over $1.2 million on hand.