ORLANDO, Fla. – Aramis Ayala, the former state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, appears to be throwing her hat in the ring for Florida attorney general.
Before that she had planned to run for U.S. House District 10, the Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Val Demings, who is running for Senate.
Ayala, the first African American state attorney in Florida, was a controversial top prosecutor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. She made waves when she announced she would not seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who was convicted last year for killing Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.
Then-Gov. Rick Scott took death penalty cases away from Ayala’s office and gave them to another state attorney, including Loyd’s case. Loyd is expected to be sentenced by a judge Thursday. Eventually, Ayala created a panel to decide on potentially seeking the death penalty in cases.
She led other criminal reform initiatives, including a low-income bail fund, and a push to issue only civil citations for nonviolent juvenile first-time offenders. She also helped form a coalition to fight domestic violence and child abuse during the pandemic.
Before Ayala won her first term in 2016, she was an assistant state attorney and an assistant public defender.
She received a boost in her campaign for office from a political action committee supported by billionaire George Soros.
Ayala, as a Democrat, has one primary opponent so far — Jim Lewis, a South Florida criminal defense attorney. The winner will face incumbent attorney general Ashley Moody in November. Moody has drawn no Republican Party challengers.