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Abortion, crime and fraud are central issues in the race for Florida's attorney general

Aramis Ayala
John Raoux/AP
Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala answers questions during a news conference Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled first-degree murder cases can be taken from the Ayala's office if she will not consider seeking the death penalty when warranted. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The race for Florida Attorney General is heating up following Tuesday’s primary election. Democratic nominee Aramis Ayala will face off against incumbent Ashley Moody.

Aramis Ayala trounced her opponents in the Democratic primary—earning nearly 45 percent of the vote compared with Jim Lewis’ nearly 27 percent and Daniel Uhlfelder’s approximately 28 percent. Now she’s turning her attention to November and Republican incumbent Ashley Moody. Ayala said she thinks Moody’s weaknesses lie in constitutional questions.

“Our right to vote, our right to privacy, our right to marry who we want to marry. All of the issues that impact Democrats—education children needing to be educated and not indoctrinated. These are the constitutional issues that I think she’s extremely vulnerable and especially me as a pro choice woman having a race for attorney general against an anti-choice woman is going to definitely be heated up," Ayala said.

In a panel hosted by the Sun Sentinel’s Steve Bousquet Ayala said she also thinks Moody shows weakness with it comes to fighting gun violence.

“Unfortunately for her public safety has not gotten better on her watch. When we talk about public safety it’s not just mass incarceration. Public safety also includes fire arms, getting these guns off the streets so that we don’t have to deal with these mass shootings. So we don’t have to deal with fearing where we go," Ayala said.

Ayala became Florida’s first Black state attorney in 2017 and soon made headlines when she announced she would not seek the death penalty in cases she prosecuted. She served a single four-year term in Orange County. Her opponent, Ashley Moody has made her own headlines since being elected to her position in 2019. Earlier this month Moody joined Governor Ron DeSantis as he announced he would suspend Tampa State Attorney Andrew Warren who had pledged not to prosecute cases under a new Florida law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. During the press announcement, Moody said ignoring laws means ignoring the will of the people.

“Let me tell you who makes the laws and decides what’s criminal. It’s you. It’s the people of this state through their elected representatives," Moody said "They decide what the laws should be for the protection of their communities and their families. An executive cannot come in and do away with that, ignore that because that’s what creates instability. That’s what creates crime across this nation and within Florida.”

Moody has worked to help recruit more police officers to Florida. Her office launched the Be a Florida Hero initiative last year. She says fighting crime means giving police more support and not looking the other way when laws are broken.

“When you see prosecutors out there that blame the victims or blame the business for not having better security and not themselves for not putting criminals behind bars, when a prosecutor puts crime before law and order, you’re going to have a problem. Law enforcement knows that. They deal with it every day," Moody said.

Moody was unchallenged during the primary, and was recently endorsed by the majority of the state’s sheriffs.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 |

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