Republican Ashley Moody appeared headed for a victory Tuesday over Democrat Sean Shaw in the election for attorney general of Florida.
"What an incredible night," Moody said at a victory party in Tampa. " What an incredible honor to be standing in front of you as Florida's next attorney general."
Moody said the judicial system needs to be fair -- and be perceived as fair. "I will work toward that every day as attorney general," she said.
With about 93 percent of the state's precincts counted, Moody had nearly 53 percent of the vote, while Shaw had about 46 percent. She led by about 80,000 votes, in a race that saw about 7.5 million votes cast.
Moody, 43, is a former judge and federal prosecutor from Tampa. Shaw, 40, is a first-term state representative from Tampa who previously served as a state insurance consumer advocate. The two were vying for the post held by Republican Pam Bondi, who was term-limited.
The race for attorney general of Florida was overshadowed by the high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate. But the office of attorney general is an important one: State attorneys general often serve as watchdogs for the state’s consumers and, increasingly, they mount challenges to federal legislation. For example, state attorneys general from both parties have pursued litigation over federal immigration policies. In addition, state attorneys general often use the office as a stepping stone to higher office, such as governor or U.S. senator.
During a campaign debate, Shaw said he would join Democratic attorneys general from other states in a suit seeking to determine if President Donald Trump has broken laws by receiving foreign payments. Shaw also said he would investigate whether the president’s Florida businesses have laundered Russian money.
Shaw has said the attorney general’s office should be “the tip of the spear” in being an advocate for social justice.
Moody, by contrast, has said the attorney general shouldn’t be a policymaker with veto power over the legislature. She has said the attorney general’s duty is to enforce existing laws and to serve as an extension of law enforcement. Moody was endorsed by about 90 percent of Florida’s sheriffs and criticized Shaw for having never prosecuted a case.