Democrat Gwen Graham now says she’s committed to picking a Democrat as her lieutenant governor, after previously saying she was open to selecting former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly for the role.
An earlier report from POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo highlighted Graham’s comments on Jolly to the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast. Jolly has been rumored to enter the race on a unity ticket for some time. Until now, the rumors have paired him with former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. On the podcast, Graham had said she’s eyeing both men as possible picks for lieutenant governor.
“I see my lieutenant governor selection as someone who’s going to be right by my side helping me get this state back on the right path,” said Graham on the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast. “And so Patrick would certainly fit that definition, as would David, as would all the other candidates for governor on the Democratic ticket at the moment. So it’s really going to be for me a thorough analysis of who can bring the most to help make the biggest difference in the state of Florida.”
She went on to say Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida’s 13th Congressional District, was a friend. Graham said she was looking for “someone who can help me govern.”
Now, Graham says a Jolly pick is out of the question. “For lieutenant governor, I will choose a Democrat who reflects my progressive values: a woman’s right to choose, supporting public schools, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding health care with a public option, and passing bold gun safety legislation.”
For lieutenant governor, I will choose a Democrat who reflects my progressive values: a woman's right to choose, supporting public schools, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding health care with a public option, and passing bold gun safety legislation.
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) May 14, 2018
The Andrew Gillum campaign had called out Graham for her appeals to bipartisanship.
“It’s beyond frustrating that the self-described ‘very conservative’ Gwen Graham is already considering splitting the ticket to run with the GOP, especially with an energized Democratic base ready to vote Republicans out,” said Orlando state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, one of Gillum’s campaign surrogates.
Gillum supporters have already gone after Graham, accusing her of not being liberal enough. Just last week, a super PAC called The Collective launched a campaign ad attacking Graham’s voting record while she was in Congress. Graham sniped back at the Gillum camp, calling on them to denounce the ad.
Orlando state Rep. Amy Mercado said of the ad and Gillum, “These type of dirty tricks have no place in our state or our party, and he should immediately call for the ad to be taken down.”
Graham added: “This is the first public Democrat attacking Democrat that I have seen in this campaign. And it really does disappoint me. And I would hope Andrew would recognize that this is not the right thing to do and would ask The Collective PAC to pull it down because that ad is just full of lies.”
While Jolly is a Republican, he has emerged as a sharp critic of President Donald Trump, which could help negate any backlash of the pick from the Democratic base.
That criticism was noted by Graham in her announcement clarifying her position on Jolly. “While DavidJollyFL and I obviously disagree on many issues, like many progressives, I do respect his bravery taking on realDonaldTrump — more than even some Democrats in the race for governor have been willing to do. Every day, I am disgusted that more Republicans, like AdamPutnam and RonDeSantisFL, refuse to stand up to realDonaldTrump and defend decency and our democracy — refuse to place our country and our state ahead of politics. It is appalling.”
Every day, I am disgusted that more Republicans, like @AdamPutnam and @RonDeSantisFL, refuse to stand up to @realDonaldTrump and defend decency and our democracy — refuse to place our country and our state ahead of politics. It is appalling.
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) May 14, 2018