Just days after the incumbent Ashley Moody received a ringing endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Northwest Florida lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder has filed for candidacy in the upcoming November Attorney General election. Uhlfelder drew eyes in 2020 after he began dressing in a ‘grim reaper’ costume in public as criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his campaign announcement video, Uhlfelder posturizes himself as an activist, highlighting his family history including an effort to force local officials to remove the Confederate flag from its perch in front of the Walton County courthouse in DeFuniak Springs and opposition to a measure that blocked public access to beaches.
“Growing up, my parents … immersed us in social justice and introduced us to politicians who actually stood up for what was right. So I guess activism is kind of in my blood,” said Uhlfelder. “When the Confederate flag was coming down from courthouses around the country, but ours stayed up, I organized to have it taken down. And when bureaucrats voted to privatize our coastline, I marched to the nearest beach and planted myself until the cops showed up. And yes, when I was watching thousands of our neighbors dying from this deadly pandemic, I put on a costume to encourage people to stay home.”
Uhlfelder has squared off against DeSantis since the onset of the pandemic two years ago. The Panhandle attorney, who was educated at Stanford University and the University of Florida, is the focus of twin investigations after he filed a lawsuit in March 2020 asking a judge to order the governor to close beaches and issue a “safer-at-home” order to curb the spread of the virus, according to News Service Florida.
Uhlfelder is seen as an early contender to win the Democratic primary against former state attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Aramis Ayala and lawyer Jim Lewis, but faces a tough uphill battle against Moody, who was seen as an overwhelming favorite even before her Trump endorsement.
“Ashley Moody has been a terrific Attorney General for the Great State of Florida,” said Trump. “Since being elected in 2018, Ashley has supported Florida’s men and women in Law Enforcement and made public safety her top priority. She is a proud defender of the Second Amendment, protects our great Vets, and truly knows and understands the importance of Law and Order.”
A Trump endorsement has proven to be a powerful asset to have for Republican candidates across the board. According to a January 2021 survey by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers, 45 percent of Republicans said they would be more likely to support a candidate endorsed by Trump. In 2020, Trump endorsed 183 politicians. Of that group 141, or 77 percent, were victorious in their bids for office.