Former Judge Ashley Moody/courtesy photo Former Judge Ashley Moody/courtesy photo

Ashley Moody stepped down last year as a Hillsborough County circuit judge to launch a bid for the state Cabinet position of attorney general.

Moody, who earned undergraduate, master’s and law degrees from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in international law from Stetson University, is going up against Rep. Frank White of Pensacola in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The winner will move on to the November general election to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Moody is the daughter of a longtime federal judge. Her mother is an attorney. Her late grandfather was a state legislator who served as a circuit judge.

The News Service caught up with Moody during the Republican Party of Florida’s “Sunshine Summit.”

The News Service has five questions for Ashley Moody:

If elected, is there anything that you want to change about the way the office is currently run? I can tell you a priority that might change some of the things we do, as crime evolves and technology evolves at the same time, our crimes get a lot more complex and harder to identify. And so, ensuring that we have investigators that are trained in the areas that we need them to be experts in, and ensuring that our labs are able to keep pace with the technology as it evolves — and I’m not just talking about the rape kits that get a lot of attention — we certainly need to catch those up. But there’s all other types of forensic evidence and forensic tests that we can test for now. … [So] I would want to focus on that, and make sure that we’re keeping pace with our resources, and our recruiting reflects where crime is now.

Attorney General Bondi has made opioids and human trafficking key issues of her office. From a legal stance, what is the biggest issue right now facing the state? I wish I could say that we’re at a point where the attorney general coming in will no longer have to focus on the opioid epidemic or will no longer have to focus on human trafficking. The sad reality is, despite the amazing accomplishments of Attorney General Pam Bondi, we’re still dealing with 15 deaths a day. My biggest fear is that we as a state get tired of talking about opioids — because it’s been such an issue for so long — and we lose energy and focus to attack it. And so, what I’d like to do when I come in is immediately put together a state force, a statewide task force, or use maybe our grand jury system to bring in experts to figure out where we need to go and direct our resources. A mistake we can make if we’re not careful is we pump a bunch of money towards a specific issue and we don’t do it in an effective way. So, I want to make sure we’re good stewards of the taxpayer money and we do invest resources, and I don’t just mean money, I also mean human resources, sheriffs’ investigations, prosecutors, that we’re doing it in a way that we’re going to reduce the numbers. I’m a numbers person. I was trained in accounting. At the end of four years, being attorney general, I want to make sure I have the numbers to show I’ve been working to address this.

How does your campaign change with the exit last month of Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, from the contest, making the primary now a two-horse race? Nothing has changed in my message. My message has always been, I am the only one running in this race that has the experience to tackle these issues and be an effective attorney general.

If you didn’t get into the family business of law, what would you have wanted to do? You know people ask me this all the time. And I remember specifically when I was younger, and when I say younger I mean middle school, I remember wanting to be a fashion designer. Then I wanted to be a brain surgeon. All of the different things the different kids used to see and want to be. But when I actually got into college, I thought for a while I was going to be an accountant. I have a major from Florida in accounting. A master’s in accounting. I worked for Price Waterhouse for a little bit auditing. I really liked that. Turns out when I ended up going back to law school, becoming a lawyer and started as a civil litigator at Holland & Knight, that accounting background came in real handy when I was analyzing civil disputes over contracts. So, it worked out.

As you’re traveling the state campaigning, what’s on the radio? Do you know we laugh in the campaign because we generally don’t have it on.

OK, let’s make this while you’re working out, what’s on your iPod? I have a son, so I generally have on my iPod what we listen to as a family. So, I have on MercyMe [a contemporary Christian music band]. We listen to a lot of Thunder and Lightning, the Imagine Dragons because we’re a huge Lightning family. So, you know that song “Thunder,” we listen to that all the time. (She spoke while scrolling through her phone.) Florida Georgia Line. About every Florida Georgia Line song, we listen to. My little guy, his walk-up song in baseball is (DJ Khaled’s) “All I do is Win.” So, we listen to that a lot. “All I do is win, win, win.” I really like Hillary Scott. So, “Thy Will” is one of my favorite songs. We’re all over the spectrum, but it’s generally related to some component of my life. Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida.