Alan Grayson takes his crusade to Tallahassee - Florida Politics

Alan Grayson takes his crusade to Tallahassee

In 1517, German theologian Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, a move that helped spark the Protestant Reformation.

Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson taped a copy of Connecticut’s assault weapons ban to the door of the Florida House in an effort to kickstart a populist U.S. Senate campaign most observers are already counting out.

Grayson, Florida’s left-leaning congressional firebrand, made a pilgrimage from his 9th Congressional District in Orlando to the state Capitol in Tallahassee to file his qualifying paperwork for his Senate campaign — and, he might argue, a campaign for the soul of Florida.

His main Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, in many ways has been the object of Grayson’s zealotry as much as the conservative Republican the winner will go on to face in November.

But as Grayson took his unorthodox message and larger-than-life antics on the road Tuesday, his main focus was along party lines as he called for state lawmakers to pass tough new gun restrictions like the ones upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.

“We have to learn from the tragedies that occur and try make sure they never happen again, and make sure these people did not lose their lives in vain,” Grayson told reporters, referring to the Orlando massacre that killed 49 earlier this month, now the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.

Calling the country’s legal status quo on firearms “reprehensible,” Grayson called on generally gun-friendly Florida lawmakers to order a special Session aimed at banning assault-style semiautomatic weapons.

“It’s much too easy in America today to kill so many people, so quickly. As long as we allow such weapons of mass destruction to be purchased, we are all at risk,” said Grayson.

Pivoting to the ongoing Senate race, Grayson reaffirmed the central tenets of his campaign: expanding Social Security and Medicare, raising the minimum wage, and tweaking the Affordable Care Act to provide for universal coverage.

One recent poll found Grayson down against Murphy, a moderate establishment favorite from Jupiter, by a 31 to 23 margin, though many voters are undecided with three months left to go before the Aug. 30 primary vote.

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.
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