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Ashley Moody says ‘meh’ to Jay Fant’s one-man ‘debate’

In all, it wasn’t much of a “debate.”

Attorney General candidate Jay Fant went ahead with his Facebook Live “Second Amendment debate” Thursday night — all by himself.

His opponent, Ashley Moody, who refused to take part, wasn’t very impressed.

Fant and Moody are two of four Republican candidates running for the Party nomination for AG (with Reps. Frank White and Ross Spano). The Jacksonville state lawmaker had been aggressive in calling out Moody, a former Hillsborough judge, for what he calls her insufficient support for the Second Amendment.

Two weeks ago, Fant challenged Moody to debate the Second Amendment on March 1 in Tallahassee; Moody promptly declined.

That didn’t prevent Fant from getting on Twitter Thursday to promote the ostensible debate and ultimately resulted in Fant alone talking on Facebook for 15 minutes, giving his take on the gun issues dominating Tallahassee since the Parkland massacre two weeks ago.

Shortly after Fant’s appearance, Moody issued a statement: “Today’s stunt reflects a career politician struggling to gain meaningful support trying to distract voters from the fact he has absolutely no qualifications nor the reasoned judgment to be Attorney General … Instead of being preoccupied with taking his next political step, my opponent should focus on doing his job protecting our children and Constitution during these crucial final days of Session.”

On Facebook, Fant mocked Moody for not offering public comments on the Parkland tragedy, nor anything about beleaguered Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Israel is under fire from Florida Republicans following reports his agency missed several warning signs about Parkland killer Nikolas Cruz. The sheriff’s office is now under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Fant has called on Israel to resign.

On Thursday, Moody reiterated that she is a supporter of the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to bear arms. And as the mother of a public-school student, she “cannot fathom the losses suffered by the families and friends in Parkland.”

Moody added: “I would urge my opponent to stop grandstanding, and while respecting our Second Amendment, find solutions to prevent mentally deranged individuals and criminals from harming our children. We must protect those we love, and that means we must continue learning from Parkland, uncovering all the facts of what happened, so this never happens again.

“We need serious leaders with serious experience to solve this issue. We do not need unsuccessful businessmen, turned unsuccessful career politicians, engaging in politically opportunistic stunts.

“Get to work, Mr. Fant. The children of your district and our great state deserve better.”

One viewer also dismissed Fant’s Facebook Live performance.

During the broadcast, Sean David Hartman wrote on Fant’s Facebook page: “So you lied. This isn’t a debate. This is you playing political games … What sucks is I absolutely agree with you. But these political games are what the People are tired … This actually HURTS you both in my eyes and others because it makes you look like a tool. Even though I agree with you, why would anyone want to vote for you if you’re being a jerk?”

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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