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Republican Attorney General candidates square off in Fort Myers

Lee Herald Favicon 16Two of the Republican primary candidates for Florida Attorney General voiced their opposition to new gun control legislation during a panel discussion in Fort Myers on Monday.

Ashley Moody and Frank White are two of the four Republicans running to replace current Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi. The current field consists of:

Jay Fant, who has been representing the Jacksonville area in the Florida House since 2014. He earned his law degree from the University of Florida in 1994, after which he was elected to serve on the board of his family’s business, First Guaranty Bank. Fant was promoted to Chairman in 2009 but left after the bank’s failure in 2012. He was elected to the House in 2014 where he currently serves.

Ashley Moody, who holds both a masters in accounting in addition to a law degree from the University of Florida and a degree in international law from Stetson Law, where she has also served as an adjunct professor. Moody served as a assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida before being elected as a judge for the 13th Florida Circuit Court in 2006.

Ross Spano, who began representing central Hillsborough County in the Florida House in 2012. He holds a history degree from the University of South Florida and a law degree from Florida State University.

Frank White, an attorney and businessman who was elected to the Florida House in 2016. He holds a law degree from Southern Methodist University and is the Chief Financial Officer for the Sansing Dealer Group. White has practiced law for 15 years across Texas and Florida.

Originally all four candidates were scheduled to appear, but only Moody and White ended up participating in Monday’s panel. Both candidates shared many points of agreement, including an emphasis on the rule of law and a strongly conservative interpretation of constitutional and legal rights. The candidates also both said that while they liked some aspects of the school safety bill recently passed by the legislature in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, such as the increase in funding for school security and mental health, they could not support the overall bill due to its inclusion of gun control measures.

Moody said that the portion of the bill that raised the age of gun ownership to 21 deprived some adults who live on their own of the right to defend themselves with a firearm.

“I did not support raising the age to 21 for all firearms,” said Moody, “I think that it is important that we uphold the Second Amendment. I think it is important that people be able to defend themselves.”

As a sitting member of the House, White voted against the bill that he described as pushed through due to the need to “do something” in the aftermath of the school shooting.

“If a killer wants to commit mass murder, this bill doesn’t stop it,” said White. “The focus on disarmament and increasing age, this doesn’t have any rational connection to the problem.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face off against the winner of the two-man Democratic primary race in November, which currently consists of Tampa lawyer Ryan Torrens and State Representative Sean Shaw.


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