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    Attorney general race may grow

    Consumer advocate Walter Dartland says he's drumming up support.

    By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 19, 2002


    TALLAHASSEE -- The number of candidates running for attorney general may rise by one.

    One week before the deadline to qualify for this fall's elections, longtime consumer advocate Walter Dartland says he wants to jump into the race. Dartland is former special counsel and deputy under Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who is being forced out of office by term limits.

    Dartland, 67, would join fellow Democrats Buddy Dyer, an Orlando state senator; Scott Maddox, the Tallahassee mayor; and George Sheldon, former deputy attorney general, in the Sept. 10 primary. He said Thursday he plans to run but is still talking to supporters to determine whether he can raise enough money to be competitive. He said the attention that corporate regulation and consumer issues have been getting convinced him that his time is now.

    "All these issues I have worked on seem to have merged," Dartland said.

    He would be the third candidate in the race who has worked for Butterworth. Sheldon resigned last week as deputy attorney general, and Solicitor General Tom Warner is one of three Republicans in the race. The other two are Sen. Locke Burt of Ormond Beach and Education Commissioner Charlie Crist.

    Because the Legislature eliminated the primary runoff for this year, the winner of the Democratic primary could perhaps win the nomination with just over 25 percent of the vote.

    "I don't know if that will affect us," Maddox said of having four people in the primary, questioning the depth of Dartland's support.

    Dartland has been called one of the state's leading consumer advocates, having worked for Miami-Dade County and then in the Attorney General's Office before leaving in 2000. He has served as a board member for the Consumer Federation of America and as a member of the national governing board of Common Cause, the public affairs lobby.

    He went to work for Butterworth in 1987 after losing to him in the 1986 Democratic primary for attorney general. He left in 1988 and worked again in the office from 1996 to 2000.

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