Arthenia Joyner backs Gwen Graham for Governor - Florida Politics

Arthenia Joyner backs Gwen Graham for Governor

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham keeps picking up steam in the final stretch of the Democratic primary for Governor.

Fresh off a nod from Jimmy Buffett, the campaign followed up with an endorsement that’s more traditional, though no less impressive: former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.

“For too long, too many Floridians have been left behind by their governor and the politicians in Tallahassee. Our communities have been forgotten, our voting rights have been attacked and our civil rights weakened,” Joyner said. “Enough is enough. In 2018, we are going to reverse the trend and elect a Democrat who will fight for all Floridians — and that governor will be Gwen Graham.

“In Congress, Gwen cosponsored legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act. She has been a leading supporter of Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to returning citizens, and she has proposed comprehensive plans to expand voting rights and reform Florida’s criminal justice system,” Joyner said.

Joyner served in the state Legislature for 16 years beginning in 2000, though her impressive CV includes becoming the first black attorney in Polk County, the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County and the longest practicing black female lawyer in Florida history.

She is also a past president of the National Bar Association, holding that position from 1984-1995 and facing arrest during her tenure for protesting apartheid.

Additionally, Joyner also served on the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission.

“As a woman, Gwen understands the issues we face because she has lived them — but more than that, on Workdays and at roundtables, she has taken the time to get to know Floridians from all walks of life, to understand their challenges and present innovative solutions to help them,” Joyner said. “Gwen will work with leaders from every community to restore our public schools, protect our environment and expand health care.”

Joyner’s endorsement comes as Graham’s campaign for governor seems to have hit its stride — she showed nearly $1.5 million in new money in her most recent fundraising report, and in nearly every recent poll, the North Florida Democrat has posted a solid lead in the five-way race.

“Senator Arthenia Joyner is a living legend and trailblazer. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Florida families — and it is an honor to have her support,” Graham said. “As governor, I will work hand in hand with Senator Joyner to expand voting rights, invest more in every public school, ban oil drilling off our beaches, and finally expand health care for almost 1 million Floridians. Together, we will bring decency, respect and progress back to our state’s capital.

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Orlando area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary race.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the November ballot.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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