Gwen Graham Archives - Page 7 of 29 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham says Rick Scott, Donald Trump from ‘con man’ wing of GOP

Tallahassee-based Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham spent a few minutes unfavorably comparing Florida Gov. Rick Scott to Donald Trump while addressing state Democrats in Philadelphia Thursday morning.

“Make no mistake, Rick Scott and Donald Trump are cut from the same wing of the Republican Party,” she said. “Not the conservative wing, but the con man wing, and if you want to know what can happen to America, just look at what’s happened to our beautiful state.”

Graham said even though Florida has become the third-most-populous state during Scott’s six-year reign in Tallahassee, the state ranks 38th in wages, something she says he boasts about while on out-of-state recruiting trips.

“I can tell you that Florida workers are as hard working as anywhere in the country, and they deserve a raise!”

The first-term representative has already declared she is considering a run for governor in 2018. In fact, she used a teleprompter (as did some other speakers on Thursday) in giving her 10-minute-plus address in the fourth-floor conference room at the Marriott, home of the Florida Delegation breakfasts all week long at the Democratic National Convention.

Graham continued to refer to questionable Trump comments or actions and turned that back to Scott, such as on public education. But she reserved her most biting criticism for the governor’s environmental policy, calling his DEP the “Department of Environmental Pollution,” and saying just this week he had voted to allow more cancer-causing chemicals in the state’s water supply.

She was referring to the state’s Environmental Regulation Commission vote to approve a proposal by state regulators that would impose new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, and change the regulations on 43 other chemicals.

Although Scott won’t be on the ballot in ’18, Graham sounded like she was definitely going to be, giving praise to FPD Chair Allison Tant and name-checking various state caucuses.

She then brought it back to why Hillary Clinton was the obvious choice for the country this year.

“Do you want a president who will build up our economy, or do you want to tear it down?” she asked, before shouting out, “Build it up!” She went through a call-and-response a few more times, with limited enthusiasm from the weary crowd. Several people did get up to give her a standing ovation as she departed the stage.

With Graham, Bob Buckhorn and Philip Levine addressing the delegates this week, it looks like the low-level campaign for Florida Democrats’ hearts, minds — and money  — has begun.

Philip Levine touting streetcar project to statewide Democrats

Whenever folks in Florida begin discussing potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates in 2018, the name Gwen Graham always appears in the first paragraph.

But with more than two years before the electorate will decide who their nominee might be, a number of other elected officials are now on the clock to begin making their case, and there’s no better showcase than in front of the state’s delegation of Dems in Philadelphia this week at the Democratic National Convention.

Although talk of Bob Buckhorn pursuing such a plan had quieted of late, the Tampa mayor put on a strong performance Wednesday in front of Florida’s delegates. When it came to firing up the crowd, Buckhorn took top honors. Another mayor who spoke Wednesday before state Democrats is Philip Levine, the ambitious Miami Beach mayor who has been networking hard over the past few months, and has a resume to boast about to statewide progressives.

In his short address, Levine humble bragged that he’s known Bill Clinton since the 1990s, and said he was motivated by the former president to ultimately leave the private sector and enter the political arena, which he did was he was first elected in 2013.

Levine’s work on infrastructure to deal with the deleterious effects of climate change on his city has been well noted in the national media. “We’ve taken the action to get things done,” he said. “And I think today across the country people are looking for a leader that has a background of actually getting things done.”

The mayor also said he’s having a meeting at the end of this week with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx regarding a light-rail streetcar project that would move passengers along the MacArthur Causeway across Biscayne Bay. The city began moving ahead with an environmental study on the project last December.

Working with consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates, the city estimates the South Beach streetcar will cost about $387 million to build and $16 million per year to operate. The system would be expected to carry a minimum daily ridership of about 20,000, reports the Miami Herald.

And Levine made sure to mention his proposal to raise the minimum living wage in Miami gradually up to $15 an hour, fulfilling the goals of the SEIU’s “Fight for $15” campaign. He says he’s ready to be sued by Gov. Rick Scott for making the move, which violates a 2004 law implemented when Floridians approved raising the minimum wage at that time. The Scott administration has remained silent on the issue until now.

Club for Growth Action slams CD 2 candidate Neal Dunn

A new ad from Club for Growth Action is slamming north Florida congressional candidate Neal Dunn as a “Charlie Crist Republican.”

“Neal Dunn is a former lobbyist who donated to Democrats, and is now running as a Republican,” Club for Growth Action president David McIntosh said in a statement.

Club for Growth Action is the super PAC affiliated with Club for Growth, an economic conservative group.

Club for Growth PAC, another separate entity, has endorsed Republican Mary Thomas for the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Thomas was a state government lawyer in the Crist administration.

“Dunn even supported expanding Obamacare,” McIntosh added.

Though Dunn has been a registered lobbyist for the Florida Medical Association, he currently opposes the Affordable Care Act, calling it “a total disaster” in his own recent ad.

“But voters do have a great economic conservative in Mary Thomas,” McIntosh said. “Mary will fight to cut taxes in Washington and will work to replace Obamacare with patient-centered health care.”

The seat is now held by Democrat Rep. Gwen Graham, but was redrawn after redistricting into a much more Republican-leaning area.

Graham has said she will bow out after one term in Congress and consider running for governor in 2018.

Republicans vying for the seat now are Dunn, a Panama City urological surgeon; Thomas, currently general counsel of the Department of Elder Affairs under Gov. Rick Scott; and former federal prosecutor Ken Sukhia.

The new Club for Growth Action ad can be viewed here:

Gwen Graham proposing school safety legislation

Today, Rep. Gwen Graham met with law enforcement, teachers, parents and students at Tallahassee City Hall to discuss making schools safer, and she announced new legislation to meet that goal.

Graham’s legislation, the Secure our Schools Act, would authorize the Department of Justice to issue grants to local school districts to install “SOS buttons” in classrooms. These buttons provide an alternative and immediate means of notifying law enforcement and first responders in case of an emergency.

Graham attributed her motivation for the legislation to recent tragedies around the country and abroad: “In recent years, we’ve seen far too many heartbreaking and shocking episodes of violence.  We must work together to make our country and Florida safer. This legislation will help better secure our schools from violence and potential acts of terrorism.”

Leon County Sheriff Mike Wood said, “The safety and security of our children is paramount. It is a privilege to be part of the discussion with Rep. Graham on this relevant and necessary legislation.”

Several panelists at the roundtable said this technology could especially be helpful for Florida’s rural schools, where less law enforcement officers are tasked with covering a greater amount of area.

“We need to make sure every student is safe, whether they live in a city or in rural areas,” Graham said. “This legislation will help schools and law enforcement communicate better in every community.”

“When my daughter is at school, I want to know that she is safe and protected,” said Adam Montgomery, a local parent in attendance. “I’m proud of Congresswoman Graham for introducing the SOS button legislation; this technology is a great step in school safety.”

Students from FSU’s Master in Applied American Politics program helped plan and carry out the event. Student Vanessa Butwell said the roundtable was informative. “It was powerful to watch Rep. Graham sit down with her constituents and listen to their concerns on such an important issue. This is how you lead, by listening.”

The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican from Illinois.

Gwen Graham praises release of 28 pages of 9/11 intelligence

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, praised the Obama administration’s decision Friday to make public 28 pages of a joint congressional panel that investigated intelligence community activities before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, Gwen’s father and co-chairman of the congressional panel, fought more than a decade for release of the documents, which highlight Saudi Arabia’s role in the incidents. Gwen Graham, when elected to the U.S. House in 2014, carried on her father’s fight, co-sponsoring House Resolution 14 urging the president to declassify the documents.

“I’m proud to have fought with my father and a bipartisan group of lawmakers for the release of the 28 pages,” Graham said. “Today’s news is a victory for the families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11 and for all Americans.

“I believe the declassified information will help us better understand the challenges we face and the enemies we must defeat to make our country safer. In this age of terror, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to anyone or any government that supports or sympathizes with terrorists.”

Gwen Graham fires back at Rick Scott, calls for special session to deal with algae disaster

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is responding forcefully — with a call for a special session of the Florida Legislature — to a letter written by Florida Gov. Rick Scott regarding the federal government’s role in the developing crisis along the state’s Treasure Coast, where algae blooms are creating an emergency-level natural disaster.

Earlier this week, Scott wrote Reps. Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings, chairs of the Florida congressional delegation, insisting the federal government needs to do something to help the state, including funding the maintenance and repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

”Florida is without a doubt the most beautiful state in the country with some of the world’s most incredible natural treasures. We need your help in protecting these natural treasures and the millions of Florida families who are being impacted by potentially harmful algal blooms,” wrote Scott in the letter.

“Please utilize your position in Congress to take immediate action by working to ensure Florida receives the federal emergency declaration and that the federal government fund the maintenance and repair to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike. These repairs would safely hold water to prevent unnatural Lake Okeechobee discharges that are leading to the increased formation of algae,” Scott added.

While Scott was overtly appealing to the congressional delegation in an attempt to secure federal action, at least one delegation member recoiled.

Graham, the current Democratic U.S. Representative from Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, took Scott to task in a letter shared first with

Graham writes she is “disappointed to see that, instead of advocating comprehensive solutions to this disaster,” Scott’s letter blames President Barack Obama and advocates only a partial solution — maintaining and repairing Lake Okeechobee’s Herbert Hoover Dike.

Graham spoke to a number of stakeholders — the Indian Riverkeeper and business owners on the Treasure Coast — and claims they are “frustrated with [the] state government and hungry for [Scott] to show leadership on this issue.”

The algae bloom, writes Graham, is yet another data point in a troubling pattern.

“Your administration has ignored sea level rise, weakened water-quality standards, and dismantled environmental standards,” Graham continued.

After advancing the idea that Scott could be the first governor in modern times who “actively worked to harm Florida’s environment,” Graham offered a call to action, with four tangible steps Scott could take to atone for his neglect of Florida’s natural resources.

The first step: to call a special session of the Legislature, focused on “short- and long-term solutions to improve our water quality and prevent future algae blooms,” channeling the “bipartisan outrage” into “real solutions” to the current crisis.

The second step: to replace “political appointees” on the Southwest Florida Water Management Board with “scientists, engineers, and conservationists.”

“Our government shouldn’t place a developer in charge of protecting our water,” Graham wrote.

The third step: work with the Legislature and local governments to clean up and replace failing septic tanks. A special session, wrote Graham, would allow for legislative “focus on this issue while the waters are still green.”

The fourth step, meanwhile, involves following through on Amendment One, to use money to buy land “south of the lake and restore the river of grass to the Everglades.”

“We must restore Florida’s water flow to the way God and nature intended,” wrote Graham, “by sending the water south.”

Strengthening the dike, wrote Graham, isn’t the answer. A tropical storm could result in the Army Corps of Engineers having to release millions of gallons of water into the Indian and Caloosahatchie Rivers. And if a storm were to hit the lake directly, Graham added, an “even greater natural disaster” could result.

“Passing the buck to the federal government isn’t the answer,” Graham wrote in her concluding paragraph, before committing to help Gov. Scott “and any other leader end this crisis.”

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Gwen Graham backs Patrick Murphy in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a likely 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and one of the leaders of the party’s moderate wing in Florida, is endorsing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy‘s U.S. Senate bid, his campaign announced Monday.

The endorsement continues Murphy’s sweep of establishment and moderate Democratic supporters in his effort to defeat progressive-wing candidates U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and lawyer Pam Keith of Miami in the Aug. 30 primary.

Murphy, of Jupiter, already had received the endorsement of Graham’s father, former Florida governor and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

Both Murphy and Gwen Graham entered Congress by upsetting incumbent, tea party-supported Republican U.S. congressmen, Murphy in 2012 and Graham in 2014.

“I am proud to support my friend Patrick to be Florida’s next U.S. senator. When my father was Florida’s senator, I so admired his willingness to roll up his sleeves and not stop fighting until the job was done. I see that same leadership quality in Patrick,” she stated in a release issued by Murphy’s campaign.

“He’s already fighting for our Florida values in Washington, and I have no doubt he’ll bring that same tireless work ethic to the Senate,” she continued. “This will be a senator who puts Florida families first. In Congress, Patrick and I have worked together to protect the Everglades and the Apalachicola Bay. It hasn’t been easy, but at every turn, Patrick has never lost sight of what truly matters. That’s the type of leadership Floridians deserve in the Senate and I’m proud to support his campaign.”

Murphy’s challenge became greater last month when incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decided at the last moment to seek re-election. That chased away almost all the other Republicans who were running for the seat, with the exception of Bradenton businessman Carlos Beruff.

Graham told last month that she wants to run for governor of Florida in 2018, though she would delay a decision on that until after her one-term tenure in Congress ends this January.

“Gwen represents the best of our state — hardworking, honest, and always working for what is best for Florida families,” Murphy stated. “Her support means the world to me and I look forward to working together to continue standing up for our shared values.”

Florida lawmakers say they ‘stand with Texas’ in wake of Dallas shootings

Florida lawmakers are standing with Texas, saying they join the country in mourning the law enforcement officers killed in a deadly attack in Dallas.

“The violence displayed against Dallas law enforcement was a senseless and cowardly act that has no place in our country. Law enforcement officers across the nation bravely put their lives on the line every day in order to protect our homes, our communities, and our families,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Friday morning. “We join of all of America in mourning these fallen heroes and praying for the recovery of those injured. Just as Texas stood with Florida following the Orlando terror attack last month, Florida will stand with Texas during this unfathomably difficult time.”

Five officers were killed, and seven more were injured, when snipers opened fire during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men. Two civilians were also wounded, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said during a news conference Friday morning.

“Every day, our law enforcement officers risk their lives to protect us,” said House Majority Leader Dana Young in a statement Friday. “I stand with law enforcement.”

Brown said the suspect, who was killed by an explosive used by police, told negotiators he was upset over the recent police shootings of black men and wanted to kill white people.

Three other suspects have been arrested.

The shooting is believed to be the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history since Sept. 11, 2001. On Friday, Scott ordered flags be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout Florida until July 12.

“It is on mornings like this after evenings like last night where we are confronted with the reality of the dangers our law enforcement officers face every day, putting themselves between us and danger, even at the ultimate cost to themselves and their families,” said Rep. Chris Sprowls in a statement. “We pray for the families of the police officers killed in Dallas last night, for all the members of the Dallas Police Department, and for all those who put themselves between us and harm’s way. May God watch over you. Gone but not forgotten.”

A spokeswoman for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the mayor has been in touch with the sheriff, and is “incredibly troubled by the events we’ve seen occurring across the country over these past several days.”

Donald Trump announced Friday morning he was canceling two campaign events in Miami Friday. According to the Miami Herald, the presumptive Republican nominee had planned to hold a lunch with high-profile supporters, including Sen. Marco Rubio. He was then scheduled to give a speech at the DoubleTree hotel near Miami International Airport.

Hillary Clinton also postponed a campaign event with Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Penn.

Here is a sampling of what other Florida lawmakers and politicians are saying:

Congresswoman Gwen Graham: “As the wife of a sworn law enforcement officer, my heart breaks for the police in Dallas and their families. As an American, my heart breaks for our country. We must come together to end this senseless violence. Whenever I see a law enforcement officer, whether it’s alongside a parade or walking into the Capitol, I thank them for their service. I hope you will join me in thanking an officer, today, in wake of this tragedy — and throughout the year, every day, as they risk their lives to protect us.”

Former Gov. Charlie Crist: “This violence is not who we are as a nation. We must come together and take action to heal, unite, and overcome acts rooted in hate. As Robert Kennedy said decades ago, the United States needs “love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country.”

Gov. Rick Scott on Twitter: “Just as Texas stood with Florida following Orlando, Florida will stand with Texas during this unfathomably difficult time. #Dallas”

Rep. Matt Gaetz on Twitter: “Praying for the fallen officers, their families, and the entire city of #Dallas.”

Annette Taddeo on Twitter: “My heart breaks for the #Dallas officers shot while honorably protecting peaceful protesters, I pray for their families & our country.”

Former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis on Twitter: “Prayers for those families of those fallen lawmen in Dallas. They were just doing their job. I also pray for our country to heal.”

Republican Senate candidate Carlos Beruff on Twitter: “The families of the victims in Dallas are in our prayers. Hate breeds all kinds of evil acts, as we have seen over the last few weeks. The murder of Dallas police officers last night is the latest loss we suffer as a country that is too often divided.”

Rep. Greg Steube: “I am incredibly saddened to read the reports of the tragedy in Dallas yesterday. I pray for the families of the fallen police officers and for everyone affected by this event. We, as Americans, cannot continue to allow such senseless acts of violence to take place. We must come together, place aside our differences and unite to end this appalling hatred. I pray for our law enforcement, our community and our nation.”

Florida Senate on Twitter: “Our prayers are with our fellow Americans in Texas today.”

Adam Putnam on Twitter: “Our shared vision for a free and peaceful nation cannot become clouded by divisiveness. May we pray for the officers and other lives lost.”

Florida GOP on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the #Dallas law enforcement victims and their families.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Give a politician a hug

Hugs may be attempting a comeback in politics.

For several years now, they seemed to be dangerous. Just ask Charlie Crist. Just ask Chris Christie. Just ask Carlos Beruff, who seems to think they still are dangerous. He sent out a news release slamming his U.S. Senate Republican primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and featuring an old picture Beruff’s campaign dug up of then-Speaker of the House Rubio and then-Gov. Crist sharing a man hug.

The news release was entitled, “The Hug.”

And it included that picture of the very moment that Crist likely spread political cooties to Rubio.

But that image as a warning from Beruff just might be so ancient history now. Certainly, no one in Orlando begrudges anyone’s hug.

Orlando may be a special case. Since the horrific June 12 massacre at the city’s popular gay nightclub Pulse, everyone is hugging everyone in the City Beautiful.

President Barack Obama is hugging Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and then hugging Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a Republican. There’s Jacobs and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat, sharing a nice, warm embrace. There’s Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan and other city commissioners, and Orange County commissioners, hugging everyone in sight. There’s Gov. Rick Scott … wait, what? … fondly putting his arm around Jacobs.

OK, Scott and Jacobs are both Republicans. But still, isn’t it possible she caught political cooties from one those earlier hugs, and might she be contagious? And who else has he hugged?

Most political professionals are skeptical and dubious of the hug. Context of hugs matters. So does the reality that there always are political enemies. Pictures are forever, and once they fall into the wrong hands, well, anyone you hug can and will be used against you in the court of politics.

There have been too many infamous political hugs. Crist and Obama. Christie and Obama. John McCain and George W. Bush. Caitlyn Jenner and Hillary Clinton. Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro. Ted and Heidi Cruz. Plenty more.

Scott Widmeyer, former communications adviser to Jimmy Carter and Jay Rockefeller and a managing partner in Finn Partners public relations agency, advises clients: “the political stage is a politician hug-free zone.”

And yet; can there really be anything in wrong with something that feels so good?

We’re already seeing the rise of U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham as a likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Graham is a notorious hugger. If and when she starts her campaign, no one in the state is likely safe from a hug.

Still, we should probably draw the line at letting Joe Biden kisses becoming the next trend.

Gwen Graham celebrates July 4th by sponsoring bipartisan ‘Made-In-America Flag’ bill

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham got into the Independence Day spirit Friday by co-sponsoring a bill to ensure the federal government only purchases flags made in America.

“There’s no better time than the Fourth of July to remind us how important the American Flag is to our nation,” the North Florida Democrat said. “This common-sense, bipartisan legislation would require the federal government only purchase American flags made in America. It’s the right thing to do to honor the founding fathers who declared our independence and all those who have fought to keep us free.”

HR 916 was introduced in the U.S. House earlier this year by Illinois Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and has drawn cosponsorship from 105 representatives, including 22 Republicans and 83 Democrats.

Outside of Graham, Florida Republicans Daniel Webster, Ted Yoho, Bill Posey, as well as Democrats Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, have signed on to Bustos’ bill as co-sponsors.

The bill would require the federal government to purchase only flags that contain 100 percent American-made materials and which are entirely manufactured in the U.S., while current law allows the government to buy flags composed of 50-percent American-made materials.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Data, $4 million worth of American Flags were imported into the U.S. in 2013, with $3.9 million of those flags coming from China.

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