Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday November 22nd 2017

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White Takes Big Step

By Duwayne Escobedo

Almost a year into his political career as a Florida House Rep. Frank White has set his sights on ascending to Attorney General.

Florida’s chief legal post has drawn three Republicans, so far, to replace incumbent Pam Bondi, who cannot run for a third time because of term limits. The office is one of four elected cabinet posts in Florida.

Additionally in the past, the position has served as a jumping off point for bids for governor of the third largest state in the country, such as Charlie Crist and Bill McCollum.

White said he plans to defend the state constitution from liberal attacks on the death penalty and gun laws and protect consumers, “especially seniors.”

“I wanted a new public service where I could make a difference,” said the 39-year-old White, who plans to complete his two-year term serving District 2. “The Attorney General has a tremendous influence on Floridians. A state rep can, as well, but it’s nothing like the Attorney General’s role in state government.”

He’s getting into a race that already has two Republican candidates. Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Ashley Moody, who is 42, resigned in June to run and has already earned Bondi’s support.  She became the youngest judge in Florida when she won election to the court at age 31 in 2006.

Additionally, Moody served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, worked at Holland & Knight LLP, was an assistant to the President of the American Bar Association, and taught as an adjunct professor at Stetson University College of Law.

Moody, who plans to continue the fight against opioid abuse, is well connected. Her father is James Moody, the senior U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Also making an AG bid is 49-year-old Jay Fant, who has served two terms in the House. The Jacksonville politician has said his top priorities are defending citizens’ constitutional rights, standing up for small business and fighting big government.

Looming as potential GOP candidates are Florida Senate President Joe Negron and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Republicans hold all statewide offices except the U.S. Senate seat filled by Democrat Bill Nelson.

White said he is qualified to become the state’s 38th Attorney General.

He is the chief financial officer and attorney for his father-in law’s Sansing Dealer Group, which owns auto dealerships throughout Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Additionally, White served as the attorney over business and securities law at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He served as a legislative aide to U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry, now the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services.Plus, White co-founded the Northwest Florida chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

He also wants Florida voters to know seven of his eight bills passed in the state House. The friendships he has made in the House and floor debates on the death penalty, enhanced criminal penalties and body cameras has also prepared him, White said.

As a freshman lawmaker, White also helped create the Tech Caucus to help educate Tallahassee lawmakers on innovations and technologies to improve the handling of cutting-edge issues. California, Texas and Massachusetts have created similar active groups to help their states set strong policies.

“I think it’s a door open to me,” said White, who earned his a law degree and Master’s in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. “I think I’m ready.”

He’ll have to be ready to crisscross the state to improve his name recognition and raise money for the election in 2018. Already Moody has raised $876,426 for her campaign war chest, while Fant has $959,581.

“We will have the financial reserves to win,” said White who filed to run Friday, Oct. 13. “Running statewide is massively expensive.”

If elected, White would become the first Attorney General from the Pensacola metro area since Thomas Franklin West, who served from 1913 to 1917. The Milton resident went on to serve on the Florida Supreme Court for nearly eight years.

While Bondi is publically supporting Moody to become the second woman to serve as Attorney General, White complimented her service.

“Her leadership in shutting down pill mills in Florida earned her national recognition, and her efforts saved lives,” he said. “She has been an outstanding Attorney General. But there is still work to be done.”

White also spoke highly of both Moody and Fant. But he said he would fight the hardest to make positive changes.

“I’m confident people will see I’m the most conservative candidate in the race,” he said. “The Attorney General’s office is the largest law firm in the state. Florida, as the third largest state, serves as a bellwether. We have a tremendous influence for good.”