Ashley Moody will seek the GOP nomination to succeed Attorney General Pam Bondi.
After a month of speculation, recently-resigned circuit judge Ashley Moody confirmed rumors this week when she announced her intent to seek the GOP nomination to succeed Pam Bondi as Florida’s Attorney General.
"My resignation was a surprise to many because I loved the job and gave it my all. People recognized that I had a passion for justice and making sure everyone had a right to due process and access to justice,” Moody said. "Now that people are aware of what I’d like to do and accomplish as attorney general, that same attention to detail and passion for justice will translate into that new role and it will not surprise anyone that I decided to do this."
Moody, 42, who was the youngest judge in Florida when she was elected to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in 2006, has deep roots in Plant City. The Moody family is a Florida — and local — legal dynasty.
“We’ve devoted our lives to the legal system and justice. It all started here (in Plant City),” Moody said.
Her grandfather, James S. Moody, was a lifelong Plant City resident, serving in the state legislature and later becoming presiding judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court in the mid-1960s. Her father, James Moody, Jr., was a Plant City lawyer and is now a federal judge. Her brother, James S. Moody, III, is a lawyer with offices in Tampa and Plant City and lives in Plant City. Her mother, Carol, also lives in Plant City and is an attorney as well.
Moody also has a number of extended family in the city including City Commissioner and partial owner of the Plant City Times and Observer Nate Kilton.
“I was thrilled to learn of Judge Moody’s candidacy for attorney general,” Kilton said. “She is well qualified for the position and the citizens of Florida won’t find anyone with higher integrity or a stronger work ethic. It’s certainly a proud moment for Plant City.”
According to Campaign Adviser Art Wood, Moody’s first campaign event will be a “hometown rally” fundraiser in Plant City June 27. Though Moody currently lives in Tampa, she still considers Plant City her home, she said. Starting her campaign in Plant City, she said, is important to her.
“I hope something about this endeavor makes my community proud and they feel they have a part in what we are trying to accomplish,” Moody said.
The hometown event will precede a larger campaign kickoff in Tampa, which is expected to be attended by Bondi. Bondi has thrown early support behind Moody.
Wood and Bondi are just two well-known Florida republicans supporting Moody’s campaign. While Wood said the campaign’s team is still being assembled, aside from a small group of advisors, Nancy Watkins, a powerhouse GOP campaign financier, has signed on as Moody’s treasurer. Wood, a retired credit union president, was chair of the Hillsborough County Republican Party in 2012. During his reign, the Hillsborough GOP was on the national stage when the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa.
“I’ve known her since her race to become a judge and I’ve known the Moody family even longer than that,” Wood, who is also a Plant City resident, said. “She’ll make an outstanding attorney general. She’s exactly the kind of person you want in there.You want somebody that’s got a very strong legal background and she does. She’s probably the best person for the job.”
Moody went to school at Bryan Elementary and Tomlin Middle before graduating from Plant City High School in 1993. During 1993, she also served as Florida Strawberry Festival Queen. She went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Florida, a juris doctorate from UF and a master’s in international law from Stetson University.
During her nearly two decade professional career in the legal system, Moody has worked as a defense attorney with global firm Holland and Knight, a federal prosecutor in Jacksonville and Tampa and was a circuit judge for just over 10 years. Moody said the diversity of her experience has prepared her to take on the role of attorney general.
“I’ve seen, intimately, our justice system and the ways in which strong leadership can improve it,” she said. “Having served on the bench now for over a decade, I felt it was the right time to use my experience and drive in a more proactive way to protect and improve the lives of our citizens.”
Aside from receiving praise for her work in the courtroom, Moody is also recognized for accomplishments out of it. She helped start Crossroads for Florida Kids, a program that helps juveniles attain legal representation; she helped start a mentorship program for at-risk youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay; she has been a law professor; she has instructed new and sitting judges in best practices for trial and pre-trial issues.
Moody had been considering a run for the office when she stepped down, but needed to make sure it was a viable option and she could garner the support for a strong run, she said. During that month she said she had conversations addressing myriad issues, including whether the mother of a young child could hold statewide office. Moody and her husband, Justin Duralia, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have a 7-year-old son, Connor. Some thought that might be a hindrance. Moody did not.
“I refuse to believe that I cannot be a great mother and great attorney general and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. One benefits the other,” Moody said. “That protective instinct will be only an asset as an attorney general as it applies to every child in every community within the state.”
For more information on Moody’s hometown rally and campaign, contact Art Wood at (813) 719-6709.
Tampa lawyer Ryan Torrens, a democrat, and State Rep. Jay Fant (R-Jacksonville) have also filed to run for attorney general.