State Rep. Sean Shaw hasn’t decided if he will run for Attorney General, but a decision is coming soon.
“I believe that being mentioned as a candidate for Attorney General is a reflection of the great work we’ve done on behalf of the people of District 61,” Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, said in a text message Wednesday to Florida Politics.
“As we move into Session, my focus remains on what we can accomplish for our community while we’re in Tallahassee,” continued Shaw. “However, I believe that we stand at a turning point in our nation with an administration in Washington intent on abusing our rule of law. I’m committed to doing all that is possible to defend Floridians against these abuses and will make a decision on how best to do that in the very near future.”
Session first convenes on Tuesday.
Shaw is a property insurance attorney who previously served as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate. He was elected to represent Tampa in the House in 2016. He’s also the son of the late Leander Shaw, who was the second African-American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court and the first to serve as chief justice.
Speculation that Shaw might enter the contest began a few months ago, in part because the only Democrat in the race, Tampa attorney Ryan Torrens, has had a rough go at fundraising.
Torrens had raised a little more than $58,000 as of November’s deadline — the last month candidates were required to file finances. That pales in comparison to all three of the GOP candidates in the race — Frank White, Jay Fant and Ashley Moody — who have near or above $1 million each through their regular campaign accounts and political committees.
Currently, Torrens’ campaign website is down, but he insists it will be up and running by the end of this week.
“We had offered to pay the vendor a payment arrangement on a weekly basis, and he declined and demanded to be paid in full,” Torrens told Florida Politics on Wednesday.
Torrens said his campaign hadn’t been affected since speculation began about Shaw’s possible entrance into the race.
“We focus on our campaign,” he said. “We focus on our strategy, and we’re not going to let ourselves get distracted by the noise.”
Torrens is scheduled to address the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee Wednesday night. He announced the formation of a task force in December to advise him on Florida’s current addiction crisis, including addiction to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet.
“A lot of voters are tired of candidates just kind of talking a big game and not doing anything, so we wanted to put in the effort to put a task force together and come up with some solid proposals,” said Torrens, who emphasizes that he wants to look at the state’s addiction problem, and not just focus on opioids. The candidate also has pledged to turn down Big Pharma money.
“We know that last year African-Americans were dying at a higher rate of addiction to cocaine than whites were dying from opioids, and so what we’ve done is that we’ve put together this task force to basically help advise me during the campaign on the crisis of addiction, come up with policy recommendations, and go ever some of the facts and so forth,” Torrens said.
But that claim isn’t flush with a study published last month in medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The study showed cocaine-related overdose deaths among non-Hispanic blacks are on par with overdose deaths caused by heroin and prescription opioids among whites.
Other Democrats could enter the race. Though there is little discussion about who those candidates might be.