Gwen Graham Archives - Page 5 of 36 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham wants special session to enact medical marijuana amendment

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is calling on the Florida Legislature to return to Tallahassee to do what it failed to do over the past two months – pass a bill enacting legislation for the medical marijuana amendment supported by more than 71 percent of Floridians.

“I watched my husband battle cancer and the sickening effects of chemotherapy. So many patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases could use medical marijuana as a way to treat their pain,” Graham said in a statement. “Floridians spent years begging the Legislature to take action before taking their case to the voters, but once again, the legislature is ignoring them. If the people of Florida give me the honor of serving as governor, their voices will be heard.”

Florida lawmakers announced Friday night that they had failed to pass a bill enacting legislation on legalizing medical marijuana.

Graham’s entry into the gubernatorial race was postponed for several months while her husband Steve Hurm dealt with being diagnosed with prostate cancer. She announce via Twitter a month ago that  he was in full remission, and announced her candidacy last week.

In her statement, the former congresswoman said that the Legislature’s failure to enact a bill to legalize medical marijuana is just the latest example of Republican lawmakers ignoring Florida voters.

“Go back to the lottery, or even more recently, Forever Florida, and all you see is the legislature playing shell games with voters. Sadly, no one should be shocked they’ve turned a blind eye to Floridians facing chronic diseases,” Graham said.

Graham also noted that for the third year in a row, the legislature is misappropriating funds for Florida Forever, a land and water conservation program supported by more than 74 percent of Florida voters in 2014.

“If my kids acted like the legislature when I told them to clean their rooms, they’d still be grounded,” Graham said. “As governor, I will force the Legislature to fulfill their responsibilities, including calling them into special session if needed, to enact medical marijuana legalization.”

Graham is running against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King for the Democratic nomination.

Another potential Democratic candidate, John Morgan, announced in a series of tweets on Saturday that he also wants the Legislature to return in a special session to address the medical marijuana issue. Morgan was one of the leaders in getting Amendment Two passed last fall.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced his candidacy last week, and will officially hold an event making his announcement official this week in Bartow.

Gwen Graham vows to ensure Amendment 1 funding if elected Governor

Gwen Graham believes Floridians should be outraged over state lawmakers failing to honor voters’ wishes on land and water conservation.

This week, the Florida House reversed course – by a nearly unanimous vote – to procure funding for the Florida Forever land conservation program starting in 2018.

Approved Tuesday, the bill provides $57 million for Florida Forever through 2035, $200 million in total.

North Fort Myers Republican Matt Caldwell said the bill is a way for the Legislature to begin living up to expectations after Amendment 1 passed by nearly 75 percent of the voters in 2014, which requires the Legislature to set aside money for land and water conservation.

The fact that the Legislature is being sued for not adhering to promises laid out in Amendment 1 should make every Floridian “appalled,” said Graham, the newly announced Democratic candidate for governor.

“Floridians across the state should be up in arms about the fact that what they voted on, what they said to the state of Florida, that we want you do this and they’re just being ignored,” Graham said in an interview Thursday on WMNF-88.5 FM in Tampa.

“They’re being ignored by the Legislature and the governor. As governor, I will make sure that Amendment 1 dollars are spent to protect and preserve sensitive lands and sensitive waters because, at the end of the day, I want Florida to be the Florida that I was fortunate enough to be growing up in. I want this Florida to be here for future generations.”

Florida Forever regularly received upward of $300 million annually after it became law in 1999, but those expenditures were dramatically reduced after the recession hit a decade ago. Last year the program received $15.1 million.

Amendment 1 requires state officials to set aside 33 percent of the money from the real estate “documentary stamp” tax to protect Florida’s environmentally sensitive areas for 20 years. This year, that number is expected to total more than $740 million. A number of environmental groups have filed suit over its lack of sufficient funding.

Graham was in Tampa Thursday for another of her “work days,” where she learned how ecologists map habitats and plan restoration projects at Ulele Springs.

Although well-known as political circles as the daughter of former U.S. Senator and Gov. Bob Graham, the 54-year-old never entered the political realm as a candidate until three years ago when she ran for Congress. Instead, she was an environmental attorney and worked in the Leon County school system.

“I believe that my life has given me such an opportunity to experience many different areas that will make my service as governor beneficial to the people of Florida,” Graham said.

If she indeed becomes the Democratic nominee, Graham could face Adam Putnam, the 42-year-old Agriculture Commissioner and lifelong politician who served in public office half of his life.

Undoubtedly, Graham will raise that issue if the two were to tangle for the job next year.

“I do believe that a career politician, somebody who has only been in office, hasn’t been able to really get out and work in the real world, and raise a family, be a business person, be somebody who has faced some of the challenges that I know people across Florida face, “Graham said. “So, yes, having had the background that I have had will make me a better governor.”

Gwen Graham vows to push for solar while installing panels

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent a good part of Wednesday installing solar panels on roofs in Orlando, while vowing she’ll do all she can to make the Sunshine State a solar energy leader.

It’s not one now.

Florida’s solar energy generation per person falls somewhere between Illinois and Ohio, well behind such un-sunshiny states like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware, and New Jersey, and far, far behind the national leaders of Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada, according to CleanTechnica.com, a renewable energy news website.

“We need Florida to be the solar capital of the world. We need to be encouraging the use of renewable energies. And we are the Sunshine State as we stand here on the roof in the direct sunlight, and we should be using the sun that Florida receives to cut down on our need for other energy sources,” Graham said.

Graham was on the roof of homeowner Ruben Garcia in east Orange County Wednesday afternoon, taking part in one of her “Work Days,” a tradition she borrowed from her father, former Gov. Bob Graham, regularly spending a full day working someone else’s job, to learn what Florida workers do.

She announced her candidacy for governor in the 2018 election on Tuesday.

Garcia and some of his neighbors are part of the Orange County Solar Coop of Fl SUN, to bulk-purchase solar energy equipment for their homes at bulk prices.

Graham and officials of the solar contractor she was working with, ESA Renewables, said Florida must change its law that prevents third-party owners. The law prevents companies from underwriting (and then owning) residential and commercial solar energy generation equipment, in exchange for charging the property owners for the energy they produce, at rates discounted compared with traditional power companies.

“That’s something that other states. They don’t have that prohibition. I think there are four other states that prevent third-party ownership. It makes it far more challenging for people to take care of solar energy,” she said.

Justin Vandenbroeck, a senior project developer for ESA, said the typical rate for solar power equipment installation runs about $3.50 per watt. [Garcia’s coop is getting a rate of $2 per watt.] It takes equipment, he said, to generate anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 watts to service a whole home. That’s about $20,000-30,000 per house.

While homeowners’ energy bills could go away entirely, at that price, it could take 10-20 years for payback.

It’s why states with third-party solar power owners have far more solar energy in place, he said.

Solar energy is only part of her environmental record and platform Graham pushed Wednesday.

She said she supports repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, for which Republican Gov. Rick Scott is seeking to fund, but said that project stands alone in efforts to clean up the Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

Graham also said Republican Senate President Joe Negron‘s plan is a good start, albeit a “very small” one.

“I think we need a comprehensive approach to the Lake Okeechobee issue. We certainly need to repair the Hoover Dam. I don’t believe we can focus on just bringing water south or just repairing the dam. We need to bring people together to develop a comprehensive solution,” she said.

“We’ve got to get good, smart people, who care about the environmental future of Florida. The Everglades are the environmental heart of Florida. We need to get good, smart people back together again who are just focusing on how do we reverse course,” She said. “I think the Negron plan is a good start, but a very small start.”

One difference she has with Negron, she said, is she does not think there should be a prohibition on Florida using eminent domain to address Everglades cleanup.

“We don’t want to be limiting the state of Florida in terms of what we need to be doing with our environment,” she said. “We have a long ways to go to get our environment back to a healthy state. Clearly, the last six years have been the worst in our environment’s history.”

Andrew Gillum picks up Broward County endorsement

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has picked up his first Broward County endorsement.

Gillum announced Wednesday that Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness has endorsed his 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement released by the Gillum campaign, Holness said Gillum has worked “tirelessly to lead Tallahassee in the right direction.”

“Andrew Gillum will work for increased prosperity for all Floridians by strengthening Florida’s economy, creating high-paying jobs and will build an advanced educational system by investing in early childhood and K-12 initiatives,” he said in a statement.” “Broward County and Florida deserve a champion in the next Governor and Andrew is the right choice at the right time. I am proud to endorse Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor.”

Gillum, one of three Democrats currently running for governor, said he was proud to have Holness’ endorsement.

“We must address the persistent economic challenges that have plagued us for generations and gotten worse under Governor Rick Scott,” he said in a statement. “Dale has been at the forefront of the critical fight to create jobs, increase wages for working families, and provide access to affordable housing. As Governor, I look forward to bringing it home for Broward County.”

Democrats Gwen Graham and Chris King and Republican Adam Putnam are also running.

Republicans quickly attack Gwen Graham as non-achieving, nontransparent

Republicans wasted little time, setting their sights quickly on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham Tuesday, accusing her of having no achievements in public service, and hiding some of her congressional records.

In separate releases, the Republican Party of Florida said she lacks accomplishments to run on; the Republican Governors Association said the former congresswoman did not release her congressional records before leaving office at the end of December.

The pair of responses may indicate a level of concern the Republicans could have for a Graham candidacy, as neither party organization quickly attacked the announced candidacies of the other two Democrats running for governor, Winter Park businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Graham’s campaign dismissed the charges as typical partisan responses:

“These predictable, partisan attacks are about as standardized and one-dimensional as the high-stakes tests Florida Republicans keep heaping on our schools and kids. Let’s focus on Florida — that’s certainly what Gwen Graham is doing.”

In the RPOF release, Florida Republican Chair Blaise Ingoglia called Graham a product of the Democratic Party’s “cookie cutter machine.”

“Gwen Graham is just another example of what’s wrong with the Democrat Party — a candidate who is running on her father’s name ID, rather than on her own accomplishments. Graham’s only record of achievement is that of non-achievement! said running for office does not qualify you for governing a state,” Ingoglia stated in a release.

“It requires a track record of getting things done,” he added. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Graham, and the people of Florida deserve better and will ultimately choose experience over rhetoric.”

The Republican Governors Association brought up a side effort launched late last fall, when it sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Graham’s congressional office seeking all records associated with her family’s businesses. At that time, her office responded publicly to the media, saying there were no such records, but did not respond to the RGA because congressional offices are exempt from the FOIA law.

The RGA brought it up again Tuesday, in a news release saying she had promised transparency, but failed to deliver.

“Graham’s efforts to hide her congressional records proves she can’t be trusted to lead the state as governor. Floridians deserved to know if Graham used her position in government to benefit any of her families’ companies or affiliated businesses — and she can only prove that by immediately releasing these congressional records and communications.”

EMILY’s List to back Gwen Graham in Governor’s race

No sooner has Democrat Gwen Graham entered the governor’s race than she picked up the endorsement of the national women’s candidates support group EMILY’s List.

Graham had also earned the EMILY’s List backing when she ran for Congress in 2014.

“Gwen Graham doesn’t need to tell Floridians that she’s a champion for women and families in her state — her record proves that beyond a doubt,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock stated in a news release. “While serving in one of the most divisive Congresses in memory, Gwen fought to ensure Florida’s veterans received the health care they deserved, to end gender discrimination in pay, and for affordable college education for Floridians and all Americans.”

Graham’s entry into the race Tuesday morning presents Florida voters with three major early Democratic candidates, including her, Winter Park businessman Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; and one major Republican, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who entered the race Monday.

EMILY’s List also is backing four other gubernatorial candidates around the country so far, incumbent Govs. Kate Brown of Oregon and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and candidates Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan.

 

Gwen Graham: I’m running for governor for ‘love of Florida’

Declaring a love for Florida and its people, as well as outrage over Tallahassee’s lack of emphasis on public education and the environment, Democrat Gwen Graham is running for governor.

In an announcement in Miami Gardens Tuesday morning, Graham, a former congresswoman and the daughter of former Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, promised that she would end high-stakes testing, work for an increased minimum wage and paid sick leave for Floridians, and take immediate and vigorous steps to protect the state’s environment.

But first, Graham professed a deep love for Florida. No one wants to talk about love, she said, but she will.

“My love for Florida, my love for Florida runs deep,” Graham said in her 20-minute address. “My dreams for Florida run wide. But my patience, my patience for the inaction in this state that I love has run out, and that is why I am running for governor. And that is why I am determined to win.”

Graham, 54, became the third Democrat to formally announce a bid for governor in 2018, following Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park businessman Chris King.

On Monday, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam became the first Republican to announce a campaign.

Standing before Miami Carrol City High School, where she said she spent a “workday” Monday, Graham spent much of her speech blasting the past 20 years of education reform efforts in Tallahassee as degrading students, turning over the schools to what she called the “education industry” intent on making money off high-stakes student tests.

“And as governor, I will not just criticize this culture of teaching to the tests, I will end it,” she said, even if she needs to use a line-veto to do so.

Graham also vowed to commit to technical and career-based training for students beginning in middle school; investing in roads, bridges and mass transit; and pushing to diversify the economy away from tourism and agriculture, and toward new economies, technology, robotics, health care and solar energy, with a new focus on entrepreneurs and home businesses.

She saved her last — and most searing — comments for the environment, accusing Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans of having done more to neglect and pollute it than at any time in history.

“The love we all have begins and ends with our beautiful, beautiful environment,” Graham said. “Our beaches and our waterways and our forests and our wetlands, our springs, and of course and our treasured River of Grass, our Everglades. Over the past six years, it has devastated me to see what Rick Scott and the Tallahassee politicians have done to pollute and ruin our precious land and waters more than any time in Florida history.”

She pledged to use Amendment 1 funds as voters intended “to protect and purchase threatened lands and waters;” as well as ban fracking and fight oil drilling off the coasts.

And she said it is time Florida began giving serious consideration to the long-term and immediate ramifications of climate change.

“We all know, we all know that climate change is real! We live on a peninsula! We live on a peninsula and we are surrounded by water and our coasts are being threatened by rising tides, and our forests are raging with fires.” she decried.

“But instead of facing reality, what does Donald Trump say? He calls it ‘a hoax.’ And what does Rick Scott do? He has promoted the use of the words ‘climate change’ in state government. The Florida we love is running out of time.”

Gwen Graham’s politics molded by father, Florida life

One thing distinguishes Gwen Graham from other candidates (and possible candidates) for Governor — she is a hugger.

Prepare to be hugged, Florida.

Graham, 54, the one-term former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee, has little professional political experience, having run for only one election. She won that one by barely a percentage point, taking Florida’s 2nd Congressional District away from Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, only to give it up when redistricting painted her district red.

Now Graham is entering a race that already has two major Democratic candidates, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park businessman Chris King, and appears wide-open for more, all seeking a shot at something her party hasn’t won in nearly a generation, the governor’s office.

Yet Graham is a woman who grew up in politics, daughter of legendary Democrat Bob Graham who served as governor when she was in junior high and high school, and as U.S. Senator through much of her adulthood.

It’s as close to Florida gets to a Democratic royal family: Her grandfather was a state senator; her uncle, publisher of The Washington Post. The Grahams have been established in South Florida for generations, though she has spent most of her life in Tallahassee.

From her father, she shares moderate positions on many economic issues and her deeply-held liberal viewpoints on Florida’s environment and justice, and a strong alliance with organized labor.

The National Journal rated her the most independent member of the Florida delegation.

Her voting record in Congress showed that mix of moderate economic and foreign affairs politics. And she cast some votes progressive Democrats hold against her, supporting new leadership against U.S. House Speaker. Nancy Pelosi, and for the Keystone XL Pipeline, keeping the military prison open at Guantánamo Bay, and for an attempt to suspend debt relief to Iran.

But on other issues such as her efforts to help restore Apalachicola Bay and the Everglades, to support veterans seeking jobs, women’s rights, children’s issues, she’s been reliable for Democrats.

Consequently, only a handful of the strongest right-wing or left-wing groups scored her exceptionally well or horribly bad on their respective political agendas, while others often crossed over to give her at least a little, but restrained love.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, typically reserving high marks for Republicans, scored her a 75, as did the Associated General Contractors of America. She received only a 39 from progressive Common Cause and just 64 from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nevertheless, Defenders of Wildlife gave her an 83; the Human Rights Campaign, 100; Club For Growth, 7; and Freedom Works 16.

One issue she’s carved out clearly is support for women and women’s health. Planned Parenthood gave her 100, while National Right to Life, a 0. And last time she ran, Emily’s List backed her.

Gwen Graham also has inherited much of her father’s image and connections and is someone able to bring in a Bill Clinton or a Joe Biden to campaign for her, and able to attract some of the top mainstream Democratic political operatives to work with her.

While in office, she also picked up on her father’s “workday” events, regularly spending a day working someone else’s job in Florida, in a hotel, a textile factory and elsewhere.

But while her father’s calling card was his handshake, Gwen Graham’s is the hug. A self-professed serial hugger, Graham fashions a matronly image to governing.

Graham is twice-married, currently to Steve Hurm, general counsel to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. She has three young-adult children, Sarah, Graham, and Mark, from her previous marriage, and spent several years as a stay-at-home mother before going to work at Leon County Public Schools as a chief labor negotiator. Previously she had briefly practiced law in both Tallahassee and Washington D.C.

Hurm, a career law enforcement officer, has been battling Stage 4 prostate cancer, and Graham, who first declared a strong interest in running for governor last summer, put off a final decision until he was able to progress through treatment.

It’s official: Adam Putnam running for Florida governor

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is no longer just a likely gubernatorial candidate.

The Bartow Republican filed his paperwork Monday for a 2018 run to replace Gov. Rick Scott. He plans to make a formal announcement on the old county courthouse steps in Bartow at 11 a.m. on May 10, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which first reported Putnam’s annoouncement.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home,” he said in a statement. “It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms.”

Putnam was first elected in 2010 after serving five terms in Congress, where he was one of the highest ranking Republican members of the U.S. House. He was first elected to the Legislature when he was 22.

The 42-year-old is a fifth generation Floridian from a family of ranchers and citrus growers. He becomes the first major Republican to enter the race.

His entry into the race has long been expected. His political committee, Florida Grown, has raised $10.5 million since since February 2015. The committee ended March with more than $7.7 million cash on hand.

The committee had some of its best fundraising periods to-date in recent months. The committee raised more than $2.2 million in February and nearly $1.1 million in March.

Both Sen. Jack Latvala and Speaker Richard Corcoran are believed to be considering their options.

Latvala’s political committee, Florida Leadership Committee, has raised $8.2 million since 2013. The committee had one of its best fundraising periods to date in February, raising nearly $1.1 million.

Democrats Andrew Gillum and Chris King have already filed to run, while former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is widely expected to announce her 2018 bid on Tuesday.

Scott can’t run again because of term limits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permissions.

Gwen Graham signals she’ll launch gubernatorial campaign Tuesday

Gwen Graham appears ready to make it official.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee is expected to announce her 2018 gubernatorial bid on Tuesday. The announcement will make Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the third Democrat to enter the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Her entry has long-been expected. When she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election in 2016, she told supporters in a video announcement that she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Since then she has dropped plenty of hints about her plan, even saying she would be poised to run a 67-county strategy. And she’s been slowly building the framework, traveling the state meeting with Democratic clubs and chatting with voters about their priorities.

In February, she launched Our Florida, a state political committee expected to fund her 2018 gubernatorial run, and transferred $250,000 from her congressional coffers to the state committee. The committee is chaired by Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney with Tripp Scott who served as special counsel to her father.

The committee had about $186,903 cash on hand at the end of March, state records show.

Her federal campaign coffers aren’t completely empty. According to federal campaign finance records, Graham had about $1 million left in her federal account at the end of the first quarter.

The Democratic field is becoming more crowded by the minute. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King have already announced their runs, while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando attorney John Morgan are still considering a run.

State records show Gillum has raised $569,940 for his political committee, Forward Florida, since February 2016. The political committee had more than $105,000 cash on hand at the end March.

Gillum raised $241,736 in March for his official campaign, state records show.

King, who filed to run in March, brought in nearly $1.2 million in March. However, that sum includes $1 million King gave his own campaign.

State records show Levine put $2 million of his own money into his political committee, All About Florida, in March.

While big name Republicans haven’t thrown their hat in the race yet, the GOP primary is expected to be just as heated. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is widely expected to run, and a barbecue scheduled for May 10, just days after the scheduled end of the 2017 Legislative Session, has many wondering if his announcement will be coming soon.

Putnam’s committee, Florida Grown, has raised $10.5 million since February 2015. The committee ended March with more than $7.7 million cash on hand.

Both Sen. Jack Latvala and Speaker Richard Corcoran are also believed to be considering their options.

Latvala’s political committee, Florida Leadership Committee, has raised $8.2 million since 2013. The committee had one of its best fundraising periods to date in February, raising nearly $1.1 million.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons