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It's official: Ousted Fla. prosecutor Andrew Warren is running to reclaim his seat. Now, does he have a chance?

Sue Carlton and Dan Sullivan, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Political News

At Tampa’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade last year — a must-attend event for local pols — here came Suzy Lopez, Hillsborough’s state attorney, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis after he booted Andrew Warren from the job in a political firestorm.

As Lopez handed out beads and waved to paradegoers, Warren was greeting crowds and posing for pictures just down the parade route. Warren, who was fighting his ouster in the courts, wore a T-shirt declaring himself Hillsborough State Attorney. Lopez’s claim to the office was spelled out across her sun visor.

Now it’s official: Warren declared Tuesday he will try to wrest the job back from Lopez in the November election. Both candidates will claim to be the rightful officeholder for the position each wants to keep.

Warren, who previously announced he would not run, said he changed his mind after a recent favorable federal appeals court ruling.

Already the candidates are taking aim.

“She walks into that building every day, pretending to be the acting state attorney,” said Warren. “That’s a slap in the face to the voters of Hillsborough County and an attack on the rule of law.”

 

And from the Lopez campaign’s senior strategist Ryan Smith: “Warren is soft on crime and more concerned about experimenting with the law than upholding it.”

Contrasting criminal justice visions

In his five years in office, Democrat Warren embraced alternatives to prosecution and enacted policies aimed at improving fairness in the justice system, correcting practices that burden the poor and guarding against prosecutorial mistakes.

Republican Lopez espouses a more traditional approach of tough prosecution. That includes pursuing cases for both major and minor crimes, seeking harsher consequences for criminals and stronger support of law enforcement.

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