Perry Thurston to run for state attorney general

Four-term state rep would be first Black elected in history

D. Kevin McNeir | 11/7/2013, 9 a.m.
Pompano Beach native and four-term State Representative Perry Thurston, Jr., 52, has added more political intrigue to the upcoming 2014 ...

Pompano Beach native and four-term State Representative Perry Thurston, Jr., 52, has added more political intrigue to the upcoming 2014 general election after recently announcing that he is a candidate for state attorney general. A victory would make Thurston the first Black in Florida’s history to hold the position.

Thurston, a third generation Floridian, earned a B.A. in Finance from Morehouse College and a Jurist Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to being elected to office, he served as president of the local Bar Association, was an assistant public defender in the Broward County Office and opened his own practice, specializing in criminal defense and public finance.

He says he decided to run and take on State Attorney General Pamela Bondi because she has “failed to represent all of the citizens from the State of Florida.”

Why he’s running

“There are three main reasons that I decided to run: Bondi’s right wing conservative and Tea Party agenda, her oppressive policy on the restoration of civil rights for individuals who have paid their debt to society and her hesitation to comment on a right wing conservative group attack on Supreme Court Justices,” he said. “But there are other reasons too. For the Black community, we see that Bondi consistently votes against what’s best for the people, like the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. Florida is number two in the county in the number of uninsured citizens. Still, our attorney general chose to lead the challenge against the ACA — a totally partisan move. Meanwhile, she’s ignoring the needs of senior citizens, women who are charged more simply because of their gender and those with pre-existing conditions. Many Blacks are impacted by diabetes and sickle cell anemia and need healthcare to deal with these chronic conditions.”

Thurston also criticized a recent decision by Bondi to cancel a state execution so that she “could attend a fundraiser.”

“There were families that needed closure and emotions were high, but she ignored that,” he said. “Her priorities are misguided.”

Thurston also clarified questions surrounding his residency. He represents Fort Lauderdale as part of District 94 (previously District 93 that includes parts of central Florida.)

“There was never an issue — this is my fourth term in office and the issue never came up,” he said. “Every 10 years we have redistricting and because it is not done by an impartial party, some of the lines were redrawn with highly-questionable motives. My district was redrawn so that my back door was just outside of my district. I have two residences in the same district and simply changed by residency to the other home, which is totally legal. I spend close to 85 percent of my time in my district so it wasn’t a big deal for me.”

Does race matter?

Thurston believes that he has a good chance to win and believes things are changing for the better in Florida.

“We are becoming a more diverse state and we are long overdue for having a Black person on the cabinet (which includes the governor, state attorney, CFO and the agriculture commissioner),” he said. “The current cabinet, led by Rick Scott and Pam Bondi is the same group that made it much harder for the restoration of rights and overturned the executive order that was previously in place.”

As Thurston hits the campaign trail, he expects that more excitement will be generated once the Democratic candidate for governor is decided. But he says he’s ready to be part of a Democratic ticket that regains leadership in Florida.

“Thurston’s candidacy adds more incentive for Blacks to vote for the Democratic ticket,” said State Senator Dwight Bullard. “Whether it’s (Charlie) Crist or (Nan) Rich, they’ll need his support because of his direct access to the Black community. But race isn’t as important here. Thurston has the resume and the capabilities and would make an outstanding attorney general. We have a very disliked governor in office which is added motivation to vote. But we’ll have to make sure we get Democrats, women and minorities, especially Blacks, out to the polls in huge numbers.”