'Grim Reaper' running for Florida Attorney General
Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder is seeking the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, in hopes of challenging Republican incumbent Ashley Moody.
“You’ve probably heard the term ‘armchair activist,’ you know, someone who binges cable news and retweets the latest hot takes, and doesn’t do much else. Well, that’s not really me,” said Uhlfelder in a two and a half minute video released on social media Tuesday.
Uhlfelder also spoke about how his family and their history steered him into activism.
“The Nazis tore my family apart; my great-grandparents were killed in the concentration camps,” he said. “Growing up, my parents never let me forget it. The immersed us in social justice; introduced us to politicians who actually stood up for what was right. So I guess, activism is kind of in my blood.”
Many remember Uhlfelder from his visits to beaches during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 dressed as the Grim Reaper.
“When I was watching thousands of neighbors dying from this deadly pandemic, I put on a costume to encourage people to stay home,” Uhlfelder said in the video. “Because when people are being oppressed, left out, or made to feel like their lives don’t matter it’s not in my DNA to let it slide.”
Fast forward two years, and Tuesday’s announcement that Uhlfelder seeks the top law enforcement post in Florida.
“Right now we’ve announced it, we’re getting our people on the ground who are going to get my message out,” he said. “And we’re going to focus on the governor and his harmful agenda, and the attorney general and her harmful agenda. And I’m going to be rolling out shortly how the plans for where I’m gonna go.”
One of the planks in Ulfelder’s platform is his ongoing legal fight against privatizing Florida beaches, which remains in litigation. That, and his claim that Attorney General Moody is using the office to advance her own political career.
“That’s really what made me want to do this, was that we have someone in office who really doesn’t want to the job of attorney general; [Moody] just wants to be the governor’s personal attorney,” Uhlfelder said. “The attorney general does not serve at the pleasure of the governor; the attorney general serves at the pleasure and the direction of the citizens of the state of Florida.”
After kicking off his campaign, Daniel Uhlfelder plans to tour the state, drawing on lessons learned from a number of high-profile Florida Democrats such as Lawton Chiles, Leroy Collins, and Bob Graham while making his case to the voters.
“A lot of people don’t know the power the attorney general can have and an attorney general who should be helping people should not be fighting private companies like cruise ships, from enforcing their own [COVID] vaccine policies,” he said. “Or taking money from certain power companies, which she regulates, while rates keep going up.”
Duke Energy has contributed the most to Moody’s campaign, $50,000. Moody also received a slew of small and large contributions, including a $10,000 donations from Florida Power and Light.
The attorney general’s office is also a state cabinet position, and Uhlfelder says that’s another cause for concern over its current direction.
“That office is basically at the direction and whim of the governor; whoever the governor is, that’s just not right,” said Uhlfelder. “That’s not going to happen in my administration, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in office. Obviously, the governor is the chief executive officer, but when I’m attorney general, I’m going to be taking my directions from Floridians.”
As for the Grim Reaper costume — now on display at the Smithsonian in Miami — Uhlfelder was asked if that would be making an appearance on the campaign trail.
“No, they’re keeping it there and it’s for folks to see,” he said. “I think my wife is very happy that it’s not within my reach, frankly (laughs).”
Daniel Uhlfelder is joined on the Democratic ballot by Aramis Ayala, a former Orange-Osceola State Attorney, and Fort Lauderdale attorney Jim Lewis. And other candidates could enter before the June 17 filing deadline. The primary is August 23, with November 8 the general election.