Hillsborough County Republican Ross Spano announced plans Thursday to run for Attorney General, becoming the third member of the House and the fourth Republican seeking to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi next year.
Spano, the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee is joining a Republican field with Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville, Rep. Frank White of Pensacola and Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge.
“If I felt like the right person was in the race to be the attorney general of the state of Florida, you can trust me, I wouldn’t be running,” Spano said. “I’m the only person among the three that are in the race right now that has these following things: the legislative experience; the conservative values; and the actual courtroom experience. I’ve been practicing law for 19 years. I’ve been in the courtroom for that time.”
Spano, who was first elected to the House in 2012 and has been ruminating with his wife on the statewide contest for about eight months, also described a long-held belief in defending victims of inequality or injustice.
Spano, who practices in the areas of estate planning, trusts, business law and corporate formation, appeared undeterred that he is entering a contest in which Fant, White and Moody have a head start in amassing cash and in lining up endorsements.
All three have raised more than $1 million through their campaign accounts and affiliated political committees. White’s money includes $1.5 million that he contributed to his campaign. Fant has put $750,000 of his own money into his campaign.
Moody, from Spano’s backyard, has the backing of Bondi.
Spano, who lives in Dover and is a father of four, said he will start to roll out endorsements in the next few weeks.
As for catching up financially, he has a way to go.
His House re-election account raised $13,000 in October, and he began November with nearly $44,000 on hand.
“I’ve been through this process before, not on a statewide basis, but even in our House race we’ve had to spend a half-million dollars,” Spano said.
He went through $242,000 when first elected, $234,000 in 2014 and $372,000 for his 2016 re-election.
A new political committee, known as Liberty and Justice for All, also could help boost his candidacy financially.
Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County, is the only Democrat to have opened a campaign account for the race. News reports in recent weeks also have raised the possibility that Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, could run for the Cabinet post.
Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.