State Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat and the son of the first black chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, entered the campaign for attorney general Tuesday and took issue with the performance of outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Shaw announced his candidacy outside the Florida Supreme Court, where his father, the late Leander Shaw Jr., was a justice from 1983 to 2003, serving as chief justice from 1990 to 1992.
Shaw said he wasn’t running against Bondi, but painted himself as the Republican’s opposite, saying he would be a “watchdog” on health care, issues involving the LGBTQ community and the opioid epidemic.
“The people of our state should be able to count on their attorney general to protect them, to always enforce the rule of law, not to have someone more concerned with how their comments will play out on Fox News,” Shaw said.
The Republican Attorneys General Association was quick to label Shaw as “an extreme liberal”
“There should be no doubt, Shaw would join progressive Democrats across America as an activist attorney general —- legislating through the court at every turn,” Scott Will, the association’s executive director, said in a prepared statement.
Shaw is the fourth member of the state House to enter the contest, joining Republicans Jay Fant of Jacksonville, Frank White of Pensacola and Ross Spano of Dover.
Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody is also in the Republican contest. Bondi cannot run again in November because of term limits.
Shaw, who was elected to the state House in 2016, joined Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens in the Democratic field.
Torrens issued a statement welcoming Shaw to the contest.
“Now Floridians will be able to determine for themselves which candidate will be the steady, crusading attorney general that Florida’s Democratic leaders have long been saying Floridians need and deserve, now more than ever,” Torrens said.
Torrens has struggled to raise money, and Shaw won’t be able to start raising money for his campaign until after the 60-day legislative session, which is scheduled to end March 9.
Asked about fundraising, Shaw said “we’ll raise what we need to raise to be competitive.”
Shaw, who works as a property insurance attorney with the Merlin Law Group in Tampa after previously serving as the state’s insurance consumer advocate, may have deep pockets behind his candidacy.
Prominent Orlando trial attorney John Morgan tweeted Dec. 12 that "Sean Shaw is a future national superstar. His father was a legend. @SShawFL is a future legend. National money will pour into this guy. Remember my words on this guy: #Superstar.”
The tweet followed Shaw noting the two had just met.