Outside Groups Start Lining Up in Steve Southerland-Gwen Graham Race
Around the State
As summer starts to wind down, the battle between U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., and Democratic challenger Gwen Graham shows signs of heating up with outside groups growing more active in what is expected to be one of the nation’s top congressional races next year.
Southerland met with business owners Tuesday in Tallahassee to discuss the impact of overregulation challenging small-business owners in an event hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida (NFIB).
“The onslaught of new regulations being passed down from Capitol Hill creates cumbersome obstacles for our state’s small-business owners,” Bill Herrle, the state executive director for the NFIB, said. “Now is the time for this administration to enact common-sense regulatory reforms at the federal level that help America’s small businesses and promote long-term economic growth, and we’re honored to work with Congressman Southerland to shine a spotlight on the negative impacts of overregulation.”
The business tour and discussion was held at Capelouto Termite & Pest Control in Tallahassee.
Federal regulations, of which -- according to the federal Office of Management and Budget -- there are more than 4,100 new ones pending, are increasingly a target of the NFIB which launched the Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations coalition back in 2011 and already has more than 350,000 members across the nation.
The NFIB is expected to continue to remain in Southerland’s corner. When facing a challenge from former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson in 2012, the NFIB took to the airwaves running ads that helped Southerland win a second term. Lawson has left the door open to running again in 2014.
But Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham who served as governor and in the U.S. Senate, has allies of her own as she looks to take on Southerland in 2014. Last week, marking the 78th anniversary of the founding of Social Security, a host of groups including the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, Social Security Works, AFSCME Retirees, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Northwest Florida Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, the NAACP and various outlets of the Democratic Party rallied in front of Southerland’s Panama City office opposing Social Security reform. Despite her liberal allies and her work for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in the 2004 election cycle, Graham is trying to sell herself as a moderate Democrat.
Graham got more outside support on Tuesday as the House Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, took aim at Southerland, forwarding information from a National Journal article on congressmen with problems with back taxes.
While Southerland defeated Democrat incumbent Allen Boyd in 2010 to win the seat and held off Lawson last year, Democrats have a solid advantage over Republicans on paper in this North Florida district. Almost 54 percent of voters here are registered Democrats while less than 33 percent are Republicans.
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