Politics

Gwen Graham Needs Upfront Strategy Against Steve Southerland

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 6, 2014 3:55 AM
Gwen Graham and Steve Southerland

Gwen Graham and Steve Southerland

Gwen Graham might have a little momentum on her side but her caution is starting to become a hindrance that could hurt her as she heads into the general election. 

Democrats are starting to like Graham’s chances against Steve Southerland in November. Roll Call posted a list of the top 10 most endangered incumbent congressmen this week and Southerland appeared on the list. The Cook Report also likes Graham’s prospects, moving the race to a tossup last week.

Things are looking good for Graham. Even as she proclaims the “North Florida Way" is all about cooperation and working together, Graham has been more than happy to have the DCCC attack Southerland every day for a week and a half. As for the candidate herself, she has been stumping around the district with her father Bob Graham who is still popular from his many years as governor and in the U.S. Senate.

But despite the progress, Gwen Graham is making a mistake too many candidates do when they feel the wind is at their backs. She’s starting to get overly cautious on the campaign trail.

Graham has tried to distance herself from Washington Democrats like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and liberals like her old bosses Howard Dean and John Kerry. It’s a necessary tactic since Obamacare and Pelosi helped sink Allen Boyd back in 2010 and helped propel Southerland into Congress.

But it can go too far. While she has no qualms accepting money from the DCCC and Pelosi’s PAC, Graham’s efforts to hide her political affiliations are starting to get silly. Even as her campaign relies on Pelosi and the party leadership for funds, Graham won’t say if she will vote for the Democratic congressional leader to be speaker of the House.

Things got even worse this week. Graham was asked if she would have voted for Obamacare back in 2010 and she ignored the question. Conservative PAC America Rising is pushing the video of Graham blowing off a simple question.

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The general election season is about to begin. Roll Call’s analysis that Graham is one of the best chances for Democrats to pick up a House seat from Republicans is spot on. She’s really the only prospect Democrats have of flipping a seat from the GOP in Florida.

But Graham is starting to get a little too cautious. This will be a close race and she won’t be able to run a Rose Garden campaign or cling to her father’s record. By consistently refusing to answer questions -- does she back Obamacare, would she back Pelosi to be speaker -- Graham is not helping herself. Southerland and his allies will portray her as a political coward and a lightweight.

Graham’s in a good position and this race is one of the most competitive in the nation. But the hard work hasn’t begun yet. Graham is going to have to get in the mud with Southerland, a sharp contrast from her pious braying about the “North Florida Way” and droning on that she is a political outsider, never mind her past work and the Democratic leadership putting a lot of chips behind her as they make their bets for November.


Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

Richard Thomas
3:22PM AUG 7TH 2014
Now I see the attribution for the video. If you added it, great. If you didn't, my apologies.
Richard Thomas
12:40PM AUG 7TH 2014
Who shot the video? Who asked the question? Who produced and supplied the video? Was it Sunshine State News? If it was from another source, shouldn't you say that?
Ron
10:42PM AUG 6TH 2014
It seems Bob graham is runninga again?

Kinda pitiful she cannot atand on herown two feet without changing her name back to daddys last name.
Cleave Drummond
7:44PM AUG 6TH 2014
Amazing, they are giving her grief over 2 hypothetical questions? Things she had no say over to begin with and something that is not even a give4 yet. She wants to represent the people and that is scaring them silly.
C Breeze
6:59AM AUG 6TH 2014
Historically, "old boy" nepotism has always stagnated Floridian politics; it's no longer the "North Florida Way" Gwen. This freedom loving Democrat says "Southerland" ! Floridians, both Democrats & Republicans "see the light", and will NOT hold with the destructive 'liberal agenda' any longer.
Michael
6:26PM AUG 6TH 2014
C Breeze, you most certainly are not a Democrat in any meaningful sense. Southerland and the Republican Party are the ones that have been and continue to destry the American middle class and insure penury for most.
Gwen Graham and the Democratic party understand that government needs to work and it works best when the interests of the folks are represented.
If you actually want things to have a chance to get better vote for Graham.
C Breeze
4:35PM AUG 7TH 2014
Oh, on the contrary Michael, I AM a Democrat in the most "meaningful sense"; I believe in freedom, liberty and our "founding documents". I am not one of the brain-dead Democrats that you have been accustomed to associating with. I have worked my entire life and I refuse to "share" with "blood suckers" such as yourself. Do you even work for a living Michael or are you just a campaign shill with computer access. I even voted for Obama the first time BECAUSE he was black and I thought it was time for a black President and I didn't recognize his rhetoric as pandering lies at that point; I didn't vote for a second term for him because I realized he was an incompetent moron with an inherited 'vision' to bring America to its knees. As the result of Obama, there will NEVER be another Black President in your lifetime Michael; and as the result of his incompetent Secretary of State, I doubt there will be a female President any time soon either (at least not 'she' who says "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THAT MAKE AT THIS POINT IN TIME ! ! !. We Democrats have given all the "ammunition" Democrats have needed for decades...and what have they done with it ?...They've "shot themselves in the foot" repeatedly. Platitudes and 'talking points' such as the phony "war on women" just don't cut it for THINKING Democrats who don't drink the "Political Kool-Ade". (The ONLY 'confirmed kill' in the "War on Women" belongs to Ted Kennedy: Mary Jo Kopechne) [If you're not old enough to remember anything Michael,...Look it up. So, don't pretend to tell me about "meaningful sense" Michael...You've probably never met a real Democrat]
Daniel
10:54AM AUG 7TH 2014
Well the DNC PLATFORM is NOT for the folks !! Just ask Detroit and other liberal meccas. What a joke.

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