TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- With two weeks until Florida's primary elections are decided, the battle for the Republican attorney general nomination has turned especially bitter, with both major candidates tarring each other with negative ads.
- Florida GOP Attorney General race
- State Rep. Frank White vs. Tampa Judge Ashley Moody
- White leading in polls
- Meet the Florida attorney general candidates
- DECISION 2018 VOTING GUIDE: Candidates, county-by-county resources, FAQs
Polls indicate State Rep. Frank White, R-Pensacola, holds a double-digit advantage over former Tampa Judge Ashley Moody. Despite entering the race an underdog, White has worked to attract the support of so-called "Trump clubs" packed with Republican voters who share a steadfast allegiance to the president -- a strategy that appears to be paying dividends.
"The Trump clubs across the state will be critical," White said in an interview Monday. "That’s where there’s just so much energy and enthusiasm and excitement. So many Americans who are -- broadly, Americans in polls show it -- they support the president. Floridians support the president, and it’s all reflected in the energy in those clubs."
The White campaign is also benefiting from weeks of negative advertising against Moody. One television ad excoriates Moody as a "liberal judge" who sued the Trump Organization for real estate fraud a decade ago. Moody was one of several attorneys who handled the suit, which was filed when Trump was a Democrat. Those details were omitted from the ad.
Not to be outdone, however, the Moody campaign has been hitting back with an equal amount of negative ferociousness. Its latest ad features some of the bevy of sheriffs who have endorsed her criticizing White for having "never prosecuted a case -- not one" and being "a car salesman-turned-politician whose old firm gave thousands to liberals."
Images of former President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi flash across the screen in a particularly impactful indictment.
The political donations were made by the car dealership chain White worked for as CFO and, while the chain is owned by his wife's family, he claims he had no control over which candidates received financial support.
History suggests a midterm election year should hurt Republicans who work to align themselves with a sitting president of their own party. But both candidates for attorney general are reaching for President Trump's coattails -- and are actively trying to trip each other up in the process. It'll be up to GOP primary voters, of course, to decide which candidate is the most Trumpian of the two.
"It's all reflected in the energy in those clubs that all come up in the last couple years, that grew out of his successful campaign," White said of the electoral environment. "They want candidates who will support the president, so, for me, it's a great audience because we agree."