Gwen Graham spent her last workday as a U.S. Representative at a Christmas tree stand in Tallahassee, helping customers select trees to take home — and reflecting on her time in Washington and plans to run for governor.
“Are you that Gwen?” one customer asked.
She was, engaging in a campaign tactic that propelled her father, Bob Graham into the governor’s office in 1978 and later the U.S. Senate, and helped send his daughter to Washington.
“It’s a real opportunity to know people on a different level than you might if they just came to talk to you in your office or met you in Costco or something,” Graham said.
Underlining her point, a man wearing a UPS polo shirt showed up to wish Graham well. She’d worked with him slinging packages him last Christmas, Graham said.
As for her future, Graham said she fully intends to seek the governorship but that the timing of her announcement would depend on the health of her husband, Steve Hurm, a Tallahassee lawyer. He’s due at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa Wednesday for evaluation of Stage IV prostate cancer.
“Every part of me wants to run for governor,” Graham told reporters. “It’s what I know I need to do for the state of Florida. But things happen in life that might take me off that path. I hope not.”
Hurm has been encouraging her to campaign. “I wouldn’t do it without him by my side,” she said.
Presuming Graham does run, she’ll make campaigning her day job until Election Day on Nov. 6, 2018, she said. She plans to keep her existing team together, including Julia Woodward, her chief of staff and campaign manager during her run for Congress.
Of leaving Congress after a single term (having been redistricted into an overwhelmingly Republican seat), she said the experience was “bittersweet.”
“The opportunity in Washington to work together — Democrats, Republicans — to actually get things done is real. It can be done.”
As for her husband’s health, Graham had this advice for gentlemen of a certain age: Get your PSA test and take the results seriously.
“In today’s world, you can Google anything and you can find a reason to not see it as a real health warning,” she said. A positive result “means that you seriously need to go the next step and find out if it’s prostate cancer. That’s my new crusade.”