Gwen Graham campaigned for her father, Bob Graham, when he ran for president in 2003. He visited Manatee County to return the favor on Monday afternoon.
Though his bid for the presidency was short-lived, Bob Graham served as a U.S. senator from 1987 to 2005, and as a two-term governor in Florida from 1979 to 1987.
He visited the Bradenton Herald to discuss his daughter’s candidacy in the 2018 gubernatorial election. She has four main rivals for the Democratic nomination: Palm Beach real estate tycoon Jeff Greene, Orlando businessman Chris King, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
At 21.6 percent, Greene led a survey by St. Pete Polls, conducted between July 12 to July 15, with Gwen Graham falling in second place by one-tenth of a percentage point. Gravis Marketing conducted a poll the same week, asking respondents whether they preferred Gillum, Greene, Levine or Graham. She led that poll, surpassing Greene by 9 percentage points.
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Gwen Graham is hoping to become the first women to serve as governor of Florida, and the first Democrat to hold the position in nearly 20 years. She previously served as the U.S. representative from Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
She was among the top 10 most bipartisan representatives during the 114th U.S. Congress, Bob Graham touted on Monday, citing an index from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
“My political philosophy is, if you’re going to be an effective representative and get things accomplished, you’ve got to appeal to people who are outside your specific political lane,” he said.
It’s no surprise that Gwen Graham and her father share similar political views. He said civics and state government were common topics at the Grahams’ dinner table.
Among their top concerns: expanding Medicaid, banning assault-style weapons, protecting the environment and improving education from both a learning and safety perspective.
Bob Graham said on Monday that his daughter is against offshore drilling and the political influence of large sugar companies.
“Now, things like how should we spend our Environmentally Endangered Lands money, or whether we should spend it for that purpose at all, has become highly partisan,” he said.
Gwen Graham worked as an attorney for the Leon County School District, and each of her three children attended a public school. She feels gun reform and mental health resources would lead to safer schools, whereas “guardian officers” would do the exact opposite.
Guardians — armed security personnel without law enforcement authority — will soon staff dozens of elementary schools in Manatee County. The position stemmed from Senate Bill 7026, officially known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which followed the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland.
The new law outlawed bump stocks, established a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and increased the purchasing age on all firearms from 18 to 21.
Such changes are “modest but revolutionary,” Bob Graham said, and his daughter plans to continue the momentum created by legislators and student activists. If she is elected, Graham said Gwen Graham may utilize state law to push for a temporary ban on assault-style weapons.
Florida Statute 14.022 states that governors can “do all and every act and thing which she or he may deem necessary in order to prevent overt threats of violence.”
The primary election on Aug. 28 will decide which two candidates will face off in the Nov. 6 general election. The winner of the Democratic primary will face the Republican nominee, most likely to be either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Florida’s current governor, Republican Rick Scott, is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for his seat in the U.S. Senate.