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We went on a date with the state attorney candidates

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Lawson Lamar

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Jeff Ashton


Today it's the chicken piccata for him, just a (same) salad for me.

"You have one of the better jobs in town, you see?" he says. "You get to take one side, which is fun for you. Have you decided on a salad yet?"

Yes, it's a tri-colored number.

"I'm still a certified police officer, and you're very brave to sit there," he adds.

And that brings us to the elephant-sized calzone in the room. Lamar launched the inter-agency vice behemoth known as the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation back in 1978, a seemingly unwieldy bunch of undercover lovers assigned to strip clubs and massage parlors ever since. In fact, back in 2007, this humble reporter had the honor of hiding behind a Dumpster at a hotel when the MBI took down three of Orlando Weekly's classified advertising sales reps for selling ads to masseuses with cameras in their pocketbooks. So, I'm on a date with my ex, then.

"But, you know the MBI has been criticized for overstepping some bounds in the past," I blink and blink and blink.

"The board believes that the MBI is well-regulated. We believe that the MBI works truthfully. If it were not, we would do something about that," he grimaces.

And if you peer beneath Lamar's prepared arsenal of aggregated moral aggravation, there is the sense that he really does believe in doing the right thing. He doesn't like seeing young, trafficked girls being "thrown away like Dixie Cups"; he's working to keep kids out of jail through truancy programs that issue citations in lieu of charges; he hates the idea of murdered babies, as anyone does; he detests political corruption and police brutality ("The notion that I've been protecting police officers is beyond hokum," he drawls; the coveted state and local Fraternal Order of Police endorsement went to Ashton on July 26). He gets death threats, like recent ones from a white supremacist group he indicted in Osceola County. In one sense, Lawson Lamar is a born leader in the way that he likes to take an omnipotent approach – one he regularly compares to that of a military general – in a similar construct to the chief executive officer of a corporation, like General Motors, which is one that he cites. Also, to be clear: "I don't hate the Weekly," he says.

Phew. But as for opponent Ashton, who has worked under Lamar for the entirety of his tenure as State Attorney (before bowing out after the Anthony fracas last year), the reconciliation is less forthcoming. "No one would have known who my opponent is but for the fact that he sought publicity in the Casey Anthony case," Lamar says, adding that he had to ask Ashton to "please control his emotions" six times during that media circus. Though he claims to go to bed with justice on his mind every night, emotion is one thing that Lamar doesn't seem to want to allow to interfere with criminal prosecution.

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