Candidate Profile: Jeff Kottkamp for Attorney General
He was lieutenant governor and a candidate for the Republican nod for Attorney General, trying to tell the conservative base why they should make him the nominee. Then his boss pulled the GOP rug out from under him.
Gov. Charlie Crist, Kottkamp's political partner, bolted from the Republican Party in late April to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. And Kottkamp was left in the uncomfortable spot of having to continue to work with a man who left the party while convincing voters he was the ideal Republican candidate.
Kottkamp is trying to beat out former Hillsborough County prosecutor Pam Bondi and former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson for the nomination. Like the Democratic race though, voters remain largely undecided about who they will vote for in the August primary. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll from June said 79 percent of voters were undecided.
Kottkamp does have a slight advantage over his opponents in that he is a little better known because of his current job. In that capacity, he runs the Children and Youth Cabinet, chairs the board of Space Florida and oversees the Governor's Office of Drug Control.
His job gives him some natural publicity, but he also needs to go campaign more, he said and “talk to people, let them know what's in my heart,” he said.
Prior to serving as lieutenant governor, Kottkamp served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006, where his tenure was largely marked by work on tort reform issues. Following his 1987 graduation from the University of Florida School of Law, he worked as a law clerk for two federal judges, a defense lawyer and a trial lawyer.
His career as a trial lawyer has also made the lieutenant governor a little more popular than many Republicans among that constituency, which typically backs Democrats. Kottkamp is quick to point out though that that doesn’t make him anti-business at all - he has represented a large slate of clients, defending clients such as Publix and other corporations and small businesses in lawsuits.
“It's not rhetoric, it's a record,” he told the News Service.
PRIORITIES IF ELECTED....
“One would be (to) carry on Gen. [Bill] McCollum's lawsuit to undo Obama-care,” Kottkamp said. “Two will be obviously dealing with the aftermath of the oil spill. And three would be challenging the EPA's imposition of water quality standards that would cause us to more than double our property taxes. And those are things that don't happen every year. So those are things that would have to be immediate priorities.”
WHETHER THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHOULD BE AN ACTIVIST...
“I think that job one of government and job one of the attorney general is to keep the people safe,” he said. “It's working with law enforcement, working with a statewide view, a statewide plan of attack against crime, so we're not inefficiently using resources and we're all on the same page when we're going to get rid of pill mills or how we're going to attack cyber crime.”
ON THE ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW...
Kottkamp said he supports Republican Rep. Will Snyder's proposal to craft an Arizona-style immigration bill. But, he noted, Florida is a very different place than the southwestern state and his approach would be to sue the federal government to recoup costs the state incurs to “secure our borders.”
“I think that anybody that's critical of Arizona doesn't understand Arizona,” he said. “They don't understand that this very violent drug war has spilled over their borders and innocent people, innocent law enforcement officers, are being killed. And people are afraid to walk on their streets.”