Both Sides Ramp Up Attacks in North Florida Congressional Race

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 14, 2014 3:55 AM
Gwen Graham and Steve Southerland

Gwen Graham and Steve Southerland

Both sides launched new rounds of attacks in North Florida as one of the most competitive congressional elections in the nation continues to shape up. 

Trumpeting her “North Florida Way,” Democrat Gwen Graham took aim at U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in a new Web video released on Wednesday. Graham, the daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., is insisting she is a political outsider despite working as a campaign aide to her father and to the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., and then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during the 2004 election cycle.

“From Panama City to Tallahassee, North Florida residents have one message,” Graham insisted this week. “We’re fed up with this messed up Congress and those like Congressman Steve Southerland who are putting themselves and their Washington politics over us.”

The new video features highlights from the “Grilling With the Grahams” tour as the candidate and her father toured the district earlier this month. During the tour, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., endorsed Graham.

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But Graham drew fire as the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) launched a television commercial on Tuesday taking aim at her. The ad attempts to link Graham to Beltway liberals including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Despite accepting money from Pelosi’s PAC and getting heavy support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Graham has refused to say if she will vote for the California congresswoman to be House speaker.

In the new ad, the NRCC looked to flip things around on Graham, mocking her claims to be an outsider.
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“Gwen Graham is trying to deceive voters into thinking she is focused on North Florida,” Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said on Tuesday. “In reality, Gwen has taken thousands of dollars from Nancy Pelosi and has promised to be complacent in the battle against bad policies like Obamacare. One thing is very clear – Gwen Graham’s liberal politics are not the North Florida way.”

The Graham camp responded with an email to supporters on Tuesday, looking to fundraise off the ad and tying it to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“We just got word that Boehner’s launching a massive ad buy against Gwen," the Graham campaign emailed supporters on Tuesday. “For a small grassroots campaign like ours, that could be terrible news.”

By June 30, the end of the second quarter, Graham’s “small grassroots campaign” had raised more than $2.35 million, more than Southerland’s haul which was just less than $2 million. The DCCC recently wrapped up a 10-day series of attacks against Southerland, something which it has done against no other Republican incumbent.

Southerland released a TV ad of his own on Wednesday, offering a positive look at his record.

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“For too long, North and Northwest Floridians felt they weren’t being heard in Washington,” said Southerland on Wednesday.  “That’s why I fight each day for the values we hold dear and then return home each weekend to hear from the people I represent. It’s why my focus is always on empowering hardworking families by growing jobs, not government.  I’m not interested in going along to get along.  North and Northwest Florida is home and will always be worth fighting for.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN.

Comments (5)

Dennis Tantalo
6:10AM AUG 15TH 2014
Hey folks! Don't forget there is a third choice in this race. Luther Lee is the write in candidate. L U T H E R L E E !
12:59PM AUG 14TH 2014
Southerland likes to bury people . Literally and figuratively.
And the Republican Party both in Florida and nationally does to.
They like a new feudal society where they and their narrow special interest supporters are the minor and major royalty.
And the serfs and peasants know their place.
Plus do not forget he is captain of the Dead Sea Skinny Dipping Society.
If you want represenation for the folks vote for Gwen Graham.
C Breeze
10:14AM AUG 14TH 2014
Howard Dean ?.. John Kerry ?... If they are your "stepping stones" to success Gwen ? Then you should realize that those "steps" lead ..downward.
C Breeze
10:10AM AUG 14TH 2014
I'll take the experienced "businessman" AGAIN, and you can keep the nepotistic spawn of "old" Florida; We've been there, done that, and are not going back. (Sorry Gwen..)
Cynthia Crowe
7:16AM AUG 14TH 2014
Are you kidding. This is the greatest ride of his life as he reeks hell on our nation.

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