Gwen Graham Paints Independent Picture But Liberal Dollars, Union Backing Tell Another Tale
Around the State
Democratic congressional hopeful Gwen Graham keeps billing herself as an “independent voice for North Florida,” but Republicans are looking to paint her as a liberal.
The daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, Gwen Graham, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., has been trying to portray herself as a moderate even as she courts the Florida AFL-CIO, who she met with last week, and other labor organizations. On Tuesday, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) endorsed Graham.
Despite bashing Washington’s “partisan dysfunction,” Graham has shown no hesitation in taking money from prominent Democrats. While Graham has refused to say if she would vote for U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to be speaker of the House, the Florida Democrat has no problems taking checks from her. "Nancy Pelosi for Congress" sent Graham $2,000 on Dec. 31, 2013, leading the Republicans to go on the attack.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) took off the gloves on Thursday and went after Graham for taking money from Pelosi, talk-show host Jerry Springer and prominent Democratic fundraiser and trial lawyer John Morgan. The NRCC also pointed to Morgan, who is a prominent backer of likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Gov. Charlie Crist and the chief sponsor of the proposed medical marijuana state constitutional amendment, facing accusations of DUI and attacking a police officer in the late 1990s.
“The folks who want Gwen Graham in Congress look like the cast of 'Celebrity Rehab' and not hard-working Florida families,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “If Gwen is already cozying up to shady characters now, there’s no telling who she will sell out Florida’s vote to if sent to Washington."
Last year, the NRCC and the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) looked to portray Graham as a liberal due to her work in the 2004 presidential campaign. After her father pulled out of the race for the Democratic nomination months before the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Graham went to work for former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. When Dean pulled out, Graham helped out then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who went on to win the nomination.
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