Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has drawn more endorsements including former Florida House Minority Leader Mark Pafford and state Reps. Katie Edwards and John Cortes
The endorsements announced by her campaign Thursday also included Duval County Soil and Water District Chair Shannon Blankenship, and Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri.
Her campaign also announced the first major labor endorsement of the season, from the United Steelworkers.
“This isn’t just about the next election. After almost twenty years of Republican rule, we are out of time. Our future and our very way of life are at stake,” Graham stated in a news release issued by her campaign. “I’m proud to have the support of these elected officials. Together, we will renew our promise to public schools, protect our environment and build an economy that works for everyone.”
Graham is in a race for the Democratic primary for the 2018 election with Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The one major Republican candidate is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“Gwen Graham is clearly the best choice to represent the interests of all Floridians,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard stated in a news release. “In Congress, she fought for policies to lift workers and our families, including her support for new laws to ensure fair pay and protections from workplace discrimination.”
“I have dedicated my career in public service fighting against the Republican status quo in Tallahassee. After years of one-party rule, we can not afford to lose another election. I’m supporting Gwen Graham because she’s offering real progressive solutions to the challenges we face,” stated Pafford, who represented Palm Beach County in the House of Representatives and now is an administrative officer in the Orange County Tax Collector’s Office.
“As governor, Gwen will end Tallahassee’s education industry and put a stop to high-stakes testing by ending the destructive school-grading system and trusting teachers to do what they are trained and hired to do. She will protect our environment by banning fracking and oil drilling off our beaches. And she’s working to build an economy that works for every Floridian,” he added.
Cortes of Kissimmee, stated, “Gwen’s momentum in Central Florida is growing as fast as our region’s population. From fighting for our environment to working in public education, Gwen Graham has dedicated her life to the issues we care most about. I look forward to working with her as our next governor.”
Hazouri added, “From the first week of her campaign, Gwen Graham has shown she understands how important Jacksonville is towinning back our state. From her commitment to human rights to her passion for protecting our natural resources and environment, Gwen Graham is focused on issues that matter to Democrats, the City of Jacksonville and the entire state of Florida. For these reasons, among many more, I’m proud to support and help Gwen win Jacksonville and win the governor’s race in November 2018.”
Former Jacksonville Mayor and current City Councilman Tommy Hazouri endorsed Gwen Graham for Governor Thursday.
“From the first week of her campaign, Gwen Graham has shown she understands how important Jacksonville is to winning back our state. From her commitment to human rights to her passion for protecting our natural resources and environment,” Hazouri said, “Gwen Graham is focused on issues that matter to Democrats, the City of Jacksonville and the entire state of Florida. For these reasons, among many more, I’m proud to support and help Gwen win Jacksonville and win the governor’s race in November 2018.”
Graham also rolled out another Jacksonville endorsement Thursday: Soil and Water Board Chair Shannon Blankinship.
Chris King’s performance in the Democratic candidates’ gubernatorial forum earlier this month in Fort Lauderdale apparently won him the backing of at least one South Florida lawmaker, state Rep. Nicholas Duran of Miami.
Duran, a freshman who emerged in this year’s Legislative Session as a leading voice for the Democrats on health care policy and anti-addition policy, announced his endorsement of King Wednesday morning, through King’s campaign.
“Chris’s performance during the Gubernatorial Forum last week confirmed what I’ve known for months now: that he can go toe-to-toe with the eventual Republican nominee and win the economic debate,” Duran stated in a news release issued by King’s campaign.
Before anyone can face the eventual Republican nominee, King faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for the Democratic nomination to run for governor in 2018. The trio shared a stage at the Democrats’ Leadership Blue Gala in Fort Lauderdale. Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam is the only major Republican in the race.
“Chris King is the candidate for governor who can bring a truly fresh approach to politics,” Duran continued. “His values and record as a progressive entrepreneur will energize Florida’s economy and create new opportunity for small businesses and workers across the state. I’m proud to announce my endorsement of Chris King for governor. I look forward to working with him and his team in the coming months to move our party and state forward.”
Duran was the lead sponsor of House Bill 557 – The Controlled Substance Prescribing Act. Working with Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens, Duran passed the bill with overwhelming support from both chambers to help combat Florida’s opioid epidemic by modernizing the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.
“I’m thrilled to have the support of such an energetic and solutions-oriented leader here in Miami,” King stated in the release. “Rep. Duran has been a strong advocate for some of the most pressing issues facing the community, including health care and prescription drug abuse prevention. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him on these issues and others here in Miami and across the state so we can work together to lift up Florida’s hardworking families.”
Former Congresswoman and now Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham on Tuesday rapped the U.S. Senate’s proposed Obamacare replacement, saying “if you get quality health care, you can have a miracle.”
Graham, speaking to reporters in the state Capitol, was referring to her husband’s recent cancer remission. Steve Hurm was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer last year.
Acknowledging that her family has good insurance coverage, “I want that for everyone,” she said. “No one should be put in a position where they can’t get the health care they deserve.”
Her announcement came shortly after fellow Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum said he was “calling for a constitutional amendment declaring affordable healthcare a fundamental right for all Floridians.”
Graham stood next to a pile of petitions she said opposed Congress’ repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama‘s signature legislative achievement. She planned on delivering the petitions to Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s Tallahassee office after her press conference.
Senate leaders scrambled Tuesday to rescue their health care bill, however, in deepening jeopardy as opposition from rebellious Republicans intensified. The defections proliferated after Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee said the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than under Obamacare.
Graham, who represented north Florida’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015-17, also said “we should be expanding Medicaid” to cover more poor and working poor Floridians.
Efforts to do so in the Legislature have failed, faced by staunch opposition from House Republican leadership and Gov. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican and former head of a for-profit hospital chain.
“How do (they) sleep at night … knowing that decisions they have made caused people to die?” Graham said. “Where is the humanity? … We want to take care of people; we want to help people.”
She was joined by the mother of a child with the same generic heart disorder that late-night host Jimmy Kimmel‘s son has, and Dr. Louis St. Petery, a Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist who was involved in the controversial 2011 “Docs vs. Glocks” state law that aimed to stop doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.
“The essential health benefits (of Obamacare) are what all children need,” he said, mentioning “checkups, immunizations and access to hospitalization” when needed.
The Senate bill, on the other hand, “which many people don’t know what’s in it, is heartless,” Graham said. She also opposes Medicaid block grants, which House Speaker Richard Corcoran and others in the Legislature favor.
In response to a question about Gillum’s proposal, she added: “I think health care is a right, but I want to make sure the way we go about it is too.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.)
Andrew Gillum is calling for a constitutional amendment declaring affordable healthcare is a fundamental right for all Floridians.
Gillum, one of three Democrats running for governor in 2018, announced Tuesday he was proposing a constitutional amendment to declare affordable health care a “fundamental right of all Floridians.”
The proposed amendment, according to a ballot summary provided by the Gillum campaign, would add “a new section to Article 1 of the Florida Constitution.”
“The following language shall be added to Article 1 of the Florida Constitution,” reads the draft text of the proposed constitutional amendment provided by the Gillum campaign. “Affordable health care is a fundamental right of all Floridians. In weighing priorities and allocating available resources, the Legislature shall afford the highest consideration to securing this right.”
The announcement comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a health care bill that, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than the current health care law.
The Senate plan would end the tax penalty that law imposes on people who don’t buy insurance, in effect erasing the so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don’t offer coverage to workers.
It would also cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama’s expansion of the program. Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.
“It’s time for Florida to finally enshrine healthcare as a right for all,” said Gillum in a statement. “There is a public trust for the government to care for its citizens, and our state can no longer be ambiguous about that moral obligation. When healthcare is under attack in Washington, we’re going to lean into the challenge of healthcare in the Sunshine State and live our values.”
In Florida, amendments can be proposed to the Constitution through an initiative petition process. According to the Division of Elections, in order for a proposed amendment by initiative to get on the 2018 general election ballot, a petition must be signed by 766,200 voters. Signatures must come from at least 14 of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.
Gillum faces Gwen Graham, a former U.S. representative from Tallahassee, and Orlando businessman Chris King.
_The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.
Orlando’s Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres has thrown his support behind former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham for governor.
Torres is a first-term senator who spent two terms in the Florida House of Representatives.
“As someone who has lived a full life full of hard work, I can tell you nothing provides more insight into what Floridians need than real life experiences. Raising three children, volunteering in the PTA and working for her local school district, Gwen Graham has the knowledge and common sense solutions to renew Florida’s public schools,” Torres stated in a news release.
Torres’s daughter, state Rep. Amy Mercado, who succeeded him in his house seat, already has endorsed Graham.
“She’s fighting to make sure our children and grandchildren have more opportunities to succeed and that when they graduate — whether it’s from high school or college — they have good paying jobs available right here in Florida. Gwen understands how important education is to our community and to all Floridians,” Torres continued. “This is why I’m proud to enthusiastically endorse Gwen Graham for Florida’s next governor.”
Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King for the Democratic nomination for governor in the 2018 race.
“For too long Tallahassee politicians have had the wrong priorities for the wrong people. Too many Floridians in our growing state have been ignored. We must put an end to businesses as usual and extinguish the status quo,” Graham stated in the release. “When I’m elected governor, our state will support every community as we renew our promise to public education, expand health care and create good-paying jobs, right here in Florida.”
According to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida’s Hispanic population is growing fastest in Central Florida and the suburbs of Tampa.
“The I-4 Hispanic community is the fastest-growing population in the state. We’re making our voices heard — and Gwen is taking the time to listen,” Torres said. “She’s working on the issues we care about, from protecting public education to building an economy that works for all Floridians. As governor, she will work to raise the minimum wage and institute paid sick leave, invest in technical training and infrastructure, and diversify our economy.”
Democratic state Rep. Patrick Henry of Daytona Beach has thrown his support behind Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the 2018 governor’s race.
Henry is a first-term representative.
“Mayor Gillum will bring bold and needed leadership to our state’s most pressing issues including a stagnant economy that produces too many low-wage jobs, a health care system that leaves too many behind and a chronically underfunded education system,” Henry stated in a news release issued by Gillum’s campaign.
Gillum faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King for the Democratic nomination.
“Representative Henry’s support means the world to me,” Gillum stated in the release. “He has quickly made a name for himself in the legislature by serving the people of Volusia County with integrity and passion, and I’m proud to have his endorsement. Floridians are facing many imposing challenges, but with the help of leaders like Representative Henry, we can have the courage to finally lean in and address them.”
Pretty close to exactly 12 years ago, I took the reins of the political operation of the Florida House Democratic Caucus. During my three years there, we picked up nine Republican districts, including two swing seat Special Elections, including a special in a ruby-red type district like Georgia 06.
We made the decision to play in this race for one after passing on a few other specials. Why? We had exactly the right candidate — and we had exactly the right GOP opponent.
It was in late 2007, and GOP State Representative Bob Allen had just resigned, the details of which I will leave to The Google. His district, in Brevard County, wasn’t exactly home team territory, but like GA 06, had one or two markers that at least piqued my attention.
The Republicans had a four-way primary, and in the process nominated arguably the worst possible candidate. one the Orlando Sentinel called “woefully unprepared” who “lacks even the basic knowledge of how Florida’s tax structure or its school system works.”
Needless to say, that ad wrote itself.
On the other side, we had basically the unicorn candidate, a well-regarded City Commissioner from the district’s population center, Tony Sasso. Sasso was a pure progressive on environmental issues, which gave him base bona fides, but was libertarian on enough issues to win over some right-leaning swing voters, and reasonable enough as a Commissioner to give moderate voters comfort. He was a well-liked known commodity.
Even with this perfect storm — the perfect candidate on our side, the perfect opponent, and the perfect setup for the race (again, you can Google it), we had to claw our way to a very narrow win.
For those of you who know me well, you know my basic political sandbox: Candidates matter. There were probably 25,000 other Democrats in that state House seat that would have lost, and with all respect to my friend Tony, we probably would have lost had the GOP just nominated a decent candidate.
So, what does this have to do with GA 06?
Keep in mind, over 70 Republicans in Congress come from seats better than this one, meaning GA 06 is the kind of place where everything has to be perfect. In fact, there is only one Democratic Member of Congress in a seat more Republican than Georgia 06, and not a single Republican in one similar for the other side.
For Florida readers, here are two markers: At R+8, GA 06 is more Republican than Dennis Ross and Mike Bilirakis‘ district, and more Republican than Ted Deutch‘s seat is Democratic. In terms of partisan voting, it is about equally partisan as Debbie Wasserman Schultz‘s seat. In other words, to win, literally everything has to be perfect — and even then, it’s often not enough.
And it wasn’t.
Taking nothing away from the campaign — I knew a lot of really smart people who did good work, and for the good of the cause, I think the party had to make some kind of an effort there (30 million was well beyond the point of diminishing returns), the basic matchup was uphill. Jon Ossoff, while an impressive young man, started out hardly more than a generic Democrat. The first time I spoke to one of my very smart Atlanta friends about Ossoff, she peppered her praise with a fair number of “but” to describe his weaknesses. Back when I was a candidate recruiter, I went out of my way to walk away from candidates whose qualities had to be modified by the word “but,” especially in seats like this.
Karen Handel, on paper, was a proven commodity. Take ideology and everything else off the test, and she wins the bio test. I don’t know if a more proven candidate, either some kind of prominent business leader, or prior elected, would have done better, but my gut says the odds are pretty decent. I was definitely in the camp that our best shot here was in the big primary.
Even in districts like this, the road to 45-47 percent, with enough money and a good enough candidate, can be smooth. But the road from there to 50+1 can be like climbing Everest without oxygen — sure it can be done, but it requires a really amazing climber and a fair amount of luck. Gwen Graham getting over the top in Florida 02 in 2014 (R+5 seat) when several others had come just short is a good example of this.
I don’t think Democrats should get too down on this one, or Republicans get too excited. Districts like this show that the map in 2018 is likely to be fairly broad. Take away the money spent in the seat, and I think most Dems would rightfully feel very good about it. As we saw in South Carolina tonight, there are a lot of places that are more interesting than they normally are.
Which gets back to the lesson. One of the biggest forgotten lessons of 2006 is the importance of recruitment. My side will never have the money to go toe-to-toe with Republicans everywhere. We have to have the “better” candidate in a lot of places to win, particularly due to gerrymandering that means we have to win more seats on GOP turf than they do on ours. At the Congressional level, the DCCC in 2006 fielded a rock-star slate of candidates. At the legislative cycle, in a year when we picked up seven GOP-held seats and held two Democratic open seats, we had the “better” candidate in almost every instance. We also recruited broadly, trying to find the best candidates we could in as many plausible seats as possible, to compete broadly, to give ourselves lots of options — and when the wave happened, the map blew wide-open. Had we not put the work in on the recruitment side — occasionally in places where a Democratic candidate had already filed, at best we would have gone plus 2 or 3, even with the wave.
At the same time, if we had more money, our +7 year might have been +10 or more.
Ossoff clearly has a bright future and would have won in a lot of places last night. But in many ways, his was a candidacy created from whole cloth, and funding and turnout operations alone won’t get just anyone across the line — especially somewhere like GA08. Even in this hyperpartisan environment, campaigns aren’t simply plug-and-play operations — they are choices.
When folks ask me what the national and state party should be doing, my answer is simple: Two things, recruit high-quality candidates and register voters.
And if Democrats expect to have success in November 2018, that is the work that must be done between now and then.
Gwen Graham scored a major national endorsement Tuesday when New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced backing Graham’s campaign for Florida governor.
“I am proud to join thousands of others in supporting Gwen Graham, a strong progressive leader, for Governor of Florida. In the age of Trump, we need courageous leaders like Gwen who will always put people over politics and aren’t afraid to stand up to anybody to do what is right,” Gillibrand said. “For her strength and leadership skills, her fortitude and passion, I offer my strongest endorsement of Democrat Gwen Graham for Governor of Florida. Take it from me: with Gwen Graham as governor, Florida will have a champion for progressive values in the Governor’s office.”
In the immediate aftermath of last year’s presidential election, Gillibrand was on the short listof potential Democrats to run for president in 2020. However, she quashed that talk early last month saying definitively she was ruling out such a run.
Nevertheless, it’s a big get for Graham, currently involved in a three-way race for the 2018 Democratic nomination against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park businessman Chris King.
“After almost 20 years of Republican rule and with Donald Trump in the White House, Florida needs a governor who will stand up for our values and fight to strengthen public education, expand access to health care, and protect civil rights,” Graham said. “Senator Gillibrand is a warrior in Washington fighting for our shared values. Kirsten’s support and the support of women from across the country who share our mission to turn Florida blue is humbling and driving our campaign forward.”
Graham has previously earned the endorsement of Emily’s List, the national political action committee that backs pro-choice Democratic female candidates for office.
In the statement accompanying the announcement of Gillibrand’s endorsement, the Graham campaign made sure to mention that she earned a 100 percent rating from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood and co-sponsored legislation to renew the battle for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Rep. Matt Caldwell spent Friday afternoon elbow deep in shark carcasses.
The North Fort Myers Republican heaved the sharks onto a scale, weighed them and packed them back in ice, preparing them to be shipped. It was a dirty job in an industry that he will oversee if elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.
Caldwell kicked off his #2LaneTravels Work Days at Key Largo Fisheries in Key Largo on Friday. The statewide tour is a chance for Caldwell to showcase the industries that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees.
“The Commissioner of Agriculture oversees all the blue collar jobs in Florida. If I’m going to be in charge of overseeing and regulating these jobs, I need to understand what goes into it,” said Caldwell. “The people who end up at top are the ones who started in the mail room. For me, the same thing is true here, if I can do the best job I can … if I’m blessed to come out on top, I have to understand (the jobs).”
Work days are a political tradition in the Sunshine State. Bob Graham, the state’s former Democratic governor and senator, made them a staple of his political career.
“Everyone knows Gov. Graham and his work days,” said Caldwell. “(It showed he) wasn’t afraid of doing hard work and was committed to understanding Florida top to bottom.”
Gov. Rick Scott held several work days during his first term in office, including selling doughnuts in Jacksonville and working as a park ranger at Hillsborough River State Park. Gwen Graham, a former U.S. and Democratic candidate for governor, is following in her father’s footsteps and doing her own workdays, including installing rooftop solar panels.
For Caldwell, the work days serve a dual purpose. While it helps it him better understand Florida, he’s also hopeful it will help Floridians better understand what the Agriculture Commissioner does.
“When you go around and try to explain to people who aren’t farmers, I remind them of the show ‘Dirty Jobs,’” he said. “Pretty much everything he does is what the Commissioner’s Office oversees.”
Caldwell said he expects future work days to include working on cattle ranches, with timber crews, and in tire shops.
Caldwell is one of four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2018. Sen. Denise Grimsley, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman, and Paul Paulson have also filed to run.
Putnam, who can’t run for re-election in 2018 because of term limits, is running for governor.