TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Former Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon criticized Attorney General Pam Bondi as he entered the race for her seat Monday.
Sheldon, a Democrat, made his announcement on Facebook, and while he didn't call Bondi out by name, he criticized her for fighting President Obama's health care overhaul and for using the position for political purpose.
"Taking on predatory lenders, human traffickers and those who engage in deceptive practices is the job of the Attorney General ... not working full time trying to deny health insurance to children and anyone with pre-existing conditions," Sheldon wrote in his post.
Bondi, who lost a court battle to have the Affordable Car Act deemed unconstitutional, once told a Republican group, "I can sue the federal government all day long."
Sheldon wrote: "This race is about character. Who has the experience and character to use the office of attorney general for general good rather than as a personal, political, partisan platform."
Bondi's campaign praised her work.
"As Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi has fought hard to defend and protect the people by making Florida a zero tolerance state for pill mills, taking on human trafficking, and pursuing consumer relief from both, mortgage and Medicaid fraud," Pablo Diaz, her campaign manager, said in an email.
Sheldon recently resigned from his position as acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It's not the first time Sheldon has sought the post. He was a candidate for the 2002 Democratic Party nomination, losing to current Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Republican Charlie Crist eventually won the seat. When then-Republican Crist served as governor, he picked Sheldon as DCF secretary. Sheldon was widely praised for leading a department that is often the target of criticism.
Sheldon, 66, was deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth. The pair has worked closely together over the years. When Butterworth was appointed DCF secretary, he chose Sheldon as his assistant secretary. Crist tapped Sheldon to take over for Butterworth when he resigned in 2008.
Crist, now a Democrat, is expected to run for governor again.
Sheldon was his party's nominee for education secretary in 2000, a race he lost to Crist. He also served as a state representative from 1975 to 1982.
He is the only viable Democratic candidate seeking any of the state's three Cabinet positions on the ballot next year.
"Pam Bondi and George Sheldon have very different credentials and points of view, and we welcome the opportunity to show the voters in Florida that they will have a clear choice between two distinctly different candidates," Diaz said.
Bondi was recently criticized for asking Gov. Rick Scott to postpone an execution so she could host a fundraiser at her home for her re-election. Marshall Lee Gore, a former escort service owner who murdered two women, was allowed to live another three weeks at Bondi's request. She later apologized.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.