National Parties Rap Steve Southerland and Gwen Graham

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: March 20, 2014 3:55 AM
Steve Southerland and Gwen Graham

Steve Southerland and Gwen Graham

With last week’s special election in Tampa Bay now in the rear view mirror, national attention turned this week to the next major congressional battle in Florida as U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., faces a major challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham.

The daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., Graham has won national attention from Democrats as she continues her bid to challenge Southerland in November. But, on Monday, Graham garnered the notice of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

The NRCC released a letter asking President Barack Obama to campaign in the North Florida district for Graham and supporting his signature health-care law.

“After supporting an unpopular president and his even more unpopular law, Gwen Graham will need a lot more than just luck to win this November,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “If she is committed to running on President Obama’s agenda, she should ask him to join her in the district.”

The letter looks to tie Graham to some of Obama’s positions. “Together, Democrats have done some incredible things,” the letter reads. “Obamacare is now the law of the land. Washington spent $1 trillion on the federal stimulus. And the Keystone pipeline will never see the light of day.”

While she has not said whether or not she would vote for U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Fla., for speaker, Graham does have some ties to prominent Democrats. After her father pulled out of the Democratic presidential primaries during the 2004 election cycle, Graham went to work for former Gov. Howard Dean’s, D-Vt., presidential bid before joining then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s, D-Mass., campaign.

But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) fired back on Wednesday, hitting Southerland for opposing Obama’s federal health-care law. The DCCC launched what they are calling “Sick N’ Broke,” an online game based on the classic “Game of Life” boardgame focused on health care. Southerland and more than 50 other Republican congressmen are being targeted by the DCCC with “Sick N’ Broke.”

“Whether it’s being able to afford an emergency C-section, making sure kids get the right nutrition, ensuring women don’t have to pay more for their care or guaranteeing Medicare’s future, Congressman Southerland and his Republicans play reckless games that hurt your health at every stage of life – all because they would rather stack the deck for their special-interest buddies,” said Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, on Wednesday. “Now you can see just how much of a mess Congressman Southerland would make of your health care – but one spoiler alert: in this game, you can’t win.”

The DCCC is also running a video against Southerland and other Republicans on health care and highlighting their website which features “Sick N’Broke.”


Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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