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Primary Decides Who Will Challenge Moody

On the ballot is a former state prosecutor who defends murder suspects, a former state attorney who refuses to seek the death penalty – no matter the crime – and a lawyer who frequently dresses up as the Grim Reaper.

FLORIDA — Three Democratic primary candidates are on the ballot this Tuesday for their chance to face off against incumbent Ashley Moody in November.

Tuesday’s winner faces an uphill battle against the unopposed incumbent, Ashley Moody, a Republican with support from businesses across the state, law enforcement agencies, and entire communities. With millions remaining in her chest of over $12 million in campaign contributions, Moody is a force to be reckoned with.

According to Moody’s website, she is “leading efforts against the unlawful federal vaccine mandates, the lack of border enforcement by federal officials, and the harmful actions of Big Tech.”

All three candidates portray themselves as defenders of justice and champions for Floridians. And they’re all highly critical of Moody for her far-right point of view.

Aramis Ayala, the first black state attorney in Florida, and “reformed” prosecutor announced on the steps of the Orlando courthouse in 2019 that she would not seek the death penalty for convicted murderers. She gained national attention for refusing to pursue the death penalty in the case against Markeith Loyd. Loyd was accused of fatally shooting his pregnant girlfriend and an Orlando police officer.


Ayala, a resident of Windermere, served as state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange and Osceola counties from 2017–2021. She was also an assistant public defender in the Circuit for ten years.

Six months after Ayala became state attorney, she was pulled over by the police. The video of the stop went viral on social media amid allegations of racial profiling. But experts at the Orlando Police Department said the stop was legitimate and only lasted a few minutes.


Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder is known as an “old country lawyer” who’s earned a reputation for his outspoken criticism of Governor Ron DeSantis and his COVID-19 policies. Uhlfelder protested the reopening of Walton County beaches in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Born in Miami but raised in north Florida, Uhlfelder garnered national attention by dressing up as the Grim Reaper and stalking the beaches to protest the state’s pandemic policies. His first campaign video featured a picture of him in the costume.

“I certainly have the best chance” of beating Moody, he told the Orlando Sentinel. On social media, he speaks out on a wide range of issues, including public beach access, high utility rates, soaring rents, and the housing crisis.

Uhlfelder has no experience as an elected official and has never been a prosecutor. However, he plans to revive the Attorney General’s civil rights office and fight for marginalized communities. His campaign committee raised over $150,000, more than his two challengers combined.


Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Jim Lewis is a perennial candidate. He’s run for multiple positions in the past, including state attorney general and mayor of Fort Lauderdale. He’s run as a Democrat, Republican, and Independent and lost every race.

As the underdog, Lewis raised just over $20,000 in contributions, with $15,000 of which he loaned to himself. But Lewis has more experience as a prosecutor than his opponents. He served as an assistant state attorney in Orange County, a special prosecutor under former Governor Bob Graham to a statewide grand jury, and an assistant statewide prosecutor for Florida under former Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

Lewis is a very experienced criminal defense lawyer who tried over 30 murder trials and over 300 jury trials. “We need someone who will follow the law and be pro-law enforcement, which I am,” Lewis told the Orlando Sentinel. “And that gives me the best chance to beat Moody, who is so far to the right, a DeSantis mouthpiece, and Trump supporter,” he added.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dodd decision brings closer attention to state attorney general races in Florida, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. For example, Florida’s attorney general can decide whether to defend or challenge abortion restrictions.


Attorney General Ashley Moody requested that the battle over the new law in Florida go directly to the Florida Supreme Court. Her office stated they would use the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade to help defend the law. All three Democrats running in the primary oppose Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban.

The attorney general also issues formal legal opinions related to state law at the request of public officials. The recent Parental Rights in Education bill (“Don’t Say Gay”) and the “Stop WOKE Act,” approved this year by the Florida Legislature, were among the laws that have faced court challenges.

The Democratic primary is on August 23. The winner will face Moody in November.