'Gwen and the Men' and the narrative heading into tonight's downhill in Jacksonville - Florida Politics

‘Gwen and the Men’ and the narrative heading into tonight’s downhill in Jacksonville

Despite the best efforts of four opponents, Gwen Graham goes into a televised forum Thursday evening in Jacksonville looking like the Democratic nominee for Governor.

The trend lines nationally point to a Graham win, another entrant to what is called in some quarters a sisterhood of gubernatorial nominees, in what seems like a year favorable to women running for office.

The most recent polls, meanwhile, say it’s not so much a matter of if Graham is going to win, but by how much. Undecideds are breaking her way, and this is the time a candidate would want that to happen.

The ALG Research poll, taken last week, had Graham at 33 percent, with the field lagging behind: 17 percent for former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; 13 percent backing Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene; 10 percent supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; and 3 percent for Winter Park businessman Chris King.

This poll, first reported by POLITICO, was pushed by the Graham campaign.

Levine’s camp is pushing its own internal poll showing him down, but by four points, to Graham (26-22). Greene is farther back at 16 percent.

The question, for Levine, Greene, Gillum, and King, is an existential one: How does one attack Graham?

No one has figured out how to make attacks resonate yet. King and Greene attempted to assail Graham’s environmental bona fides. Gillum has seen the Collective PAC do his dirty work. But none of it, per poll after poll, has mattered.

In the format Thursday evening, it will be difficult for candidates to distinguish themselves — and not because much of the television audience will have at least one eye on the Jaguars’ preseason opener.

An hour-long forum, divvied up between five candidates who tend to pivot to talking points with every answer, goes very quickly, and the likelihood for new ground being plowed is minimal in that context.

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