Aramis Ayala, the first African American state attorney in Florida’s history, announced that she’s not running for reelection next year. Ayala came under fire in 2017 when she announced that she would not pursue the death penalty while in office.
Rick Scott, then governor, removed all death penalty cases from her and transferred them to Brad King, state attorney for the Fifth Circuit.
Ayala became a lightening rod for controversy after her decision and received death threats because of it.
Politically, she never recovered and didn’t work to fix the fissure created by her decision. In replacing her, former Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, Belvin Perry, has indicated that he plans to run for the seat and Ryan Williams, a prosecutor who formerly worked under Ayala, has filed to run.
So far, Williams has raised more than $70,000 for his campaign and is off to a fast start. But overcoming Perry’s history and name recognition will be difficult.
Ayala, though, likely has a bright future. She became a national figure soon after her death penalty decision and has traveled overseas to speak about why the death penalty should be abolished.
In announcing her decision not to run for reelection, Ayala didn’t say what she plans to do next but it’s likely something centered around justice. Besides making history when she was elected in 2016, Ayala proved to be a solid orator and stood strong in her convictions.
If she doesn’t have her next moved already mapped out, a local or national television station would be made better by adding her to their roster.
Once her term ends in 2020, we are likely to know more about Ayala’s next move. Until then, we’re left with Ayala’s legacy, that includes being the first Black woman elected as State Attorney and a decision that changed the trajectory of her brief political career.