A state legislator who represents part of Lee County announced today that he’s running for Florida attorney general.
Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, who’s served in Tallahassee for the past seven years, is the lone Democrat representing Lee County at the state level.
He joins Republican trial attorney Jim Lewis of Fort Lauderdale in the race. Lewis, 51, announced his candidacy May 18.
In 2002, the 38-year-old Aronberg won in the newly gerrymandered district that stretches virtually from beach to beach across the state. He served as an assistant attorney general, a prosecutor in the economic crimes unit, from 1999 until 2002. He’s currently in private practice with the Palm Beach firm Greenspoon Marder PA.
Aronberg’s announcement has seemed a foregone conclusion. Since Gov. Charlie Crist announced his run for the U.S. Senate and Attorney General Bill McCollum has said he’d run for governor, Aronberg has talked openly of the run.
“It’s not a shocker,” said Aronberg, appearing at a post-legislative session event today at the Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club in Lee County.
Aronberg described his decision to run as one of the biggest of his life.
“I’ve always stood for the people over the powerful, public interests over private interests,” he said.
Aronberg said he’ll continue to look for government rip-offs, referring to the sale of Alligator Alley to a private company, the recently scuttled plan he vocally opposed in Tallahassee.
Aronberg said he’s running because he can make the most difference in the lives of Floridians.
“Corporations have their own lawyers,” he said. “Criminals have their own lawyers. Con artists have their own lawyers. “I want to be the people’s lawyer.”
Aronberg said he chose to make his announcement in Southwest Florida, long a Republican stronghold, because he believes the area is “in play” and the right Democratic candidate can win here.
“Southwest Florida cares more about what’s in hearts and minds than party affiliations,” he said.
Aronberg said the political atmosphere - Florida could have an entire new executive branch after 2010 - will make the campaign challenging
“People will support a good campaign and a good candidate,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp has been rumored to be a candidate for the same office, but has made no announcement. Cole Peacock, who introduced Aronberg and is helping with his campaign, said he met with Kottkamp a week ago. Kottkamp was unavailable for comment.
“He says he’s running,” Peacock said.
Aronberg brought supporters with him to the Aronberg announcement, including Daniel McNaughton, 18, an Edison State College student.
“He fights for the people. He doesn’t bow down to the special interests,” McNaughton said. “That’s rare these days.”
McNaughton said the Alligator Alley fight, led by Aronberg in Tallahassee, showed that.
If they get less in tolls they’re going to make it up somewhere,” he said. “When they make cuts, education is always first. Education is important to me.”
Gina Downs is with the Citizens Transportation Coalition of Collier County, which worked against the Alligator Alley privatization. She and other CTC members showed up at the Miromar Lakes clubhouse wielding signs, but were asked to put the signs away.
“Apparently the policy here is ‘We don’t want the people having no damn signs’,” she said.
Downs and other CTC members joined Aronberg for his announcement.