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Candidates for Attorney General Take a Slower Pace

The Florida governor’s race drew candidates with lightning speed, but it looks like it could take a while for the state attorney general’s field to settle out.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has already hosted a pair of conference calls with three leading Democrats eyeing the race, opening a dialogue about each man’s strengths and weaknesses, said one of them, Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

“There’s been no demonizing of the other guy,” Gelber said of the calls, which occurred last week and Monday. “We’re talking about each other. But there’s always a high degree of civility.”

Republicans also are trying to assess the race, even after one of the party’s potential candidates, George LeMieux, announced Wednesday that he wouldn’t run.

LeMieux, a former chief-of-staff and campaign manager for Gov. Charlie Crist, leaves Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, as the most prominent Republicans considering a campaign.

“I think things are going slow because both Republicans and Democrats are looking to get this down to one person in the race,” said Pat Roberts, president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, who is close to Republican Party leaders.

“It’s going to be a while before this shakes out. Both sides want to get the strongest candidate without going through a bloodbath,” Roberts added.

Galvano said Wednesday he planned to “take my time” before deciding whether to enter the race.

Also on the Republican side, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon of Winter Park is being mentioned by many activists as a strong candidate for the seat being vacated by Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, who quickly jumped into the governor’s race after Democrat Alex Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, declared her candidacy.

Cannon hedged about the Cabinet post: “It’s a really neat role. But it would take a lot for me to change direction at this point.”

Meanwhile, Gelber said the possible Democratic contenders have been sending occasional text-messages to each other about political developments. Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres and Rod Smith, a former Alachua state senator who ran for governor in 2006, round out the field.

“It’s really hard to say when things will become clear,” Gelber said. “It could be a while, or it could be this afternoon.”

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