THE RACE IS ON FOR GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL & OTHER LEADERSHIP POSITIONS – 2022 DECISION GUIDE

The race for Florida’s 47th governor will see Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis and a host of challengers looking to unseat him. 

A native Floridian, DeSantis is a graduate of Yale University and a Harvard Law School graduate. While at Harvard, he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer. During his active-duty service, he was deployed to Iraq as an adviser to the U.S. Navy Seal commander in support of the SEAL mission in Fallujah, Ramadi and the rest of the Al Anbar province. He was elected to Congress in 2012 and elected as governor of Florida following the 2018 election. DeSantis is the only Republican in the governor race. His running mate is current Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.

Hoping to challenge DeSantis in the general election are Democratic candidates Nikki Fried, current agriculture commissioner, Charlie Crist, former governor, Robert Willis and Cadance Daniel. 

Fried ran for office for the first time in 2018 after serving as a public defender, child welfare champion and marijauna legalization advocate. In her role as agriculture commissioner, she appointed the department’s first ever cannabis director and legalized hemp for farmers. “I’m somebody who always likes to ruffle feathers,” she said. The daughter of a teacher, Fried grew up in a middle class family in South Florida. 

As Florida’s 44th governor, Charlie Crist led Florida through the recession and the deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill. Before he was elected governor, he was a state senator and attorney general. In 2016, he was elected to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District covering Pinellas County from Clearwater to St. Petersburg. Crist grew up in St. Pete, and received a degree from Florida State University and a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Democrat Robert Willis is a Brevard County native and one of 11 children born to a single mother. He attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, receiving an associate’s degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. As an educator in the Florida education system, Robert currently works as an elementary school teacher at the Emma Jewel Charter Academy in Cocoa. Being a native of Florida’s Space Coast, Robert worked at Kennedy Space Center for 22 years and worked directly with astronauts for five years. 

A lifelong Floridian, Democrat Cadance Daniel is an international speaker, global humanitarian, and small business owner. Her running partner, Dylisa McClinton, has taught within the Florida education system for nearly 10 years. 

Among the other candidates running for governor are Libertarian Hector Roos, non party affiliates Carmen Gimenez and Jodi Jeloudov, and write-in-candidates James Thompson, Kyle “KC” Gibson and Piotr Blass. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Florida’s attorney general race will see Republican incumbent Ashley Moody against the winner of a Democratic primary between Aramis Ayala, Jim Lewis and Daniel Uhlfelder. 

Moody is a fifth-generation Floridian from Plant City. Following the November 2018 election, Moody became Florida’s 38th attorney general. She attended the University of Florida where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and law. She later attended Stetson University College of Law, earning a master’s of law in international law. Moody began her legal career with the law firm of Holland & Knight where she practiced commercial litigation. In her spare time, she volunteered assisting domestic violence victims seeking protection in court. She subsequently joined the United States Attorney’s Office prosecuting drug, firearm, and fraud offenses. In 2006, at the age of 31, Moody became the youngest judge in Florida when she was elected Circuit Court Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County.

Ayala, of Orlando, is a civil rights advocate, cancer survivor and former Florida State Attorney. She served as a public defender and assistant state attorney for nearly 15 years before becoming Orange-Osceloa State Attorney from 2017-2021. She’s the first black state attorney in Florida history. 

Lewis is a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has tried over 300 jury trials to verdict. He was an assistant state attorney in Orlando, a special prosecutor to the Statewide Grand jury of Florida under Gov. Bob Graham and as an assistant statewide prosecutor under then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth. He attended Central Florida University and Stetson University where he attained his law degree.

Uhlfelder, who resides in the Panhandle city of Santa Rosa Beach, attended Stanford University and law school in Florida. He served as judicial clerk in the southern district in miami. He then spent two years as trial attorney with a top trial firm in Miami. Uhlfelder has spent 25 years as an attorney. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Uhlfelder is known for protesting DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies by walking crowded Florida beaches in a Grim Reaper costume. 

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER 

Florida’s chief financial officer oversees the state’s accounting and auditing functions. The CFO also monitors investment of state funds and handles the licensing and oversight of insurance agents and agencies. The state’s CFO also serves as the state fire marshal.

Republican incumbent Jimmy Patronis will square off against Democrat Adam Hattersley for Florida’s chief financial officer. Born in Panama City, Patronis served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014, representing his hometown region in the Florida Panhandle. He was appointed to serve on Florida’s Public Service Commission, as well as the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets once every 20 years to propose changes to the state constitution.

Hattersley, of Tampa, is a Navy veteran who spent eight years as a nuclear submarine officer. In 2009, he moved to Riverview, Florida and worked for a Fortune 500 company for seven years. In 2016, Adam and his wife opened a small business helping other small businesses. In 2018, after more than a decade as a registered independent, Adam sought and won a seat in the Florida Legislature as a Democrat. Hattersley served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2018 to 2020.

COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE 

With the current commissioner of agriculture vying for governor, the race for agriculture commissioner will feature Republican and Democratic primaries among five candidates. On the Republican side are Wilton Simpson, current Senate President from Tallahassee, and James Shaw, farm owner and investor from Vero Beach. The Democratic candidates include Naomi Esther Blemur, local business owner from North Miami, J.R. Gaillot, legislative director and adviser from Gainesville, and Ryan Morales, owner of a small hemp farm in Clermont.

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