Gwen Graham Archives - Page 7 of 38 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham talks about making a difference in first campaign video

Gwen Graham is out with her first campaign video, highlighting recent Workdays and her 2018 gubernatorial launch.

“My love for Florida runs deep, but my patience, my patience for inaction in the state I love has run out,” Graham says in the video over scenes of her announcement speech and Workdays across Florida teaching, installing solar panels and restoring wetlands.

Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, formally announced her 2018 run on May 2. Since then, she’s been traveling the state participating in Workdays and meeting with Floridians.

“I really could care less about the title of governor. I would prefer always to be just Gwen,” she says in the video. “But what I do care about is being in a position where I can make a difference for Floridians and the state that I love so much. But I still just want everyone to call me Gwen.”

Graham, who is the daughter of former senator and Gov. Bob Graham, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King in the Democratic primary. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando attorney John Morgan are both believed to be considering a run.

On the Republican side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam officially launched his campaign Wednesday. Sen. Jack Latvala and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are also believed to be considering a run.

Gwen Graham surges to front in Dems’ gubernatorial money race

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has quickly surged to the front of the pack in campaign fundraising in her drive for the Florida governor’s office in 2018.

Graham, who officially entered the race on May 2, raised more than $429,000 in April for her independent political committee, Our Florida, her official campaign announced. That’s almost as much as her two primary opponents, Chris King and Andrew Gillum raised combined in April.

Graham, of Tallahassee, also has transferred $1.2 million from her former congressional campaign. With expenses, that brings the committee’s bankroll to $1.629 million, her official campaign reported Wednesday.

“I’m not just running for governor to win back our state — I’m running to renew the Florida we all love. Thank you to everyone who believes in this movement and has contributed to help us succeed.” Graham stated in a news release. “We will have the resources to communicate our message in every corner of this state and take on any Republican candidate.”

Her two primary opponents thus far also reported strong April fundraising efforts, but not as strong as Graham’s.

Winter Park affordable housing developer King reported raising $300,000 in April and finished the month with about $1.5 million in hand. His contributions thus far including money he has given his own campaign, $1 million to start, and, according to Politico, another $100,000 or so in April.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum reported raising just over $200,000 in April, bringing his total fundraising to about $1.1 million. He reported having $743,000 of that in the bank at the end of April.

Graham’s April haul included several big checks. Airport construction magnate James Finch of Lynn Haven, health care software entrepreneur Michael Singer of Alachua, and attorney Wayne Hogan of Jacksonville each contributed $50,000. Fifteen other individuals, companies or committees, including EMILY’s List, contributed at least $10,000.

Still, the challenge ahead for any of Democrats is that of Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who filed for the governor’s race last week and officially kicked off his campaign Wednesday in his hometown of Bartow. His Florida Grown Political Committee ended March with $7.7 million in the bank.

None of the candidates’ April official campaign committee numbers, nor Putnam’s Florida Grown numbers, had been posted yet Wednesday by the Florida Division of Elections.

Richard Corcoran joins calls for medical marijuana special session

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has added his voice to those calling for a special legislative session on medical marijuana.

Corcoran spoke Wednesday on “The Morning Show with Preston Scott” on WFLA-FM radio in Tallahassee.

Lawmakers failed to come to agreement this Legislative Session on a bill that would implement the medical cannabis constitutional amendment passed in 2016. Just over 71 percent of statewide voters approved the measure.

An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.

“It absolutely needs to be dealt with,” Corcoran told Scott. “When you have 71 percent of the voters say, ‘we want legalized medical marijuana,’ and the fact we couldn’t get (an implementing bill) done, to just leave it to bureaucrats sitting at the Department of Health would be a gross injustice.

“I do believe and support the notion that we should come back and address and finalize dealing with medical marijuana,” he added.

“Does that mean a special session?” Scott asked.

“It would, absolutely,” Corcoran said.

Senate President Joe Negron on Monday also signaled his inclination for a special session.

“I think that’s something that now that session is over and our budget passed that we’ll confer with the House and governor, and then make a decision on whether that’s something we should do,” he told reporters. “I think the Legislature does have a responsibility to be involved in that implementation, so that’s something we’ll look at.”

Others, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham and Orlando trial attorney John Morgan also called for a special session on medical marijuana, with Morgan doing so in a nearly nine-minute video on Twitter.

Morgan has been behind the amendment since it was first filed for 2014, when it failed to get enough votes.

Under the state constitution, a special session can be convened by proclamation of Gov. Rick Scott, or “by consent of two-thirds of the membership of each house.”

A state law also provides that the “President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, by joint proclamation duly filed with the Department of State, may convene the Legislature in special session.”

Another section of that statute allows 20 percent of state lawmakers to request a special session, after which the Florida Department of State must poll all members, who have to approve on a three-fifths vote.

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum calls for ‘strengthening’ Obamacare in Florida

A day after the end of the 2017 Legislative Session, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Monday called on state lawmakers to pass a bill “strengthening insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Gillum, the sitting mayor of Tallahassee, appeared at the Florida Press Center with two local women who told of their family members’ troubles getting coverage and treatment: One has a son with a chromosomal disorder and the other’s sister lives with Crohn’s disease, an incurable digestive malady.

Gillum’s proposal, a priority if he’s elected in 2018, has three goals: Prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions; charge them the same premiums as those without such conditions; and “end the discriminatory practice of charging women higher premiums than men.”

The first two already are part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” which President Donald Trump and GOP members of Congress have so far unsuccessfully tried to repeal. The federal law is the signature act of former President Barack Obama

Gillum’s proposal, light on specifics, may be more pipe dream than policy—at least for now—with a GOP-controlled Legislature and an insurance industry averse to change.

He said he had had “some behind-the-scenes conversations” with members of the industry, though he declined to say who, and couldn’t provide a financial impact of his proposal.

A request for comment was sent to Audrey S. Brown, the president and CEO of the Florida Association of Health Plans, which represents managed-care companies.

Gillum also dodged a question about whether he supported an “individual mandate,” insurance parlance for a legal requirement to buy health insurance. That’s also part of the ACA.

“We believe, and I certainly believe, that health care is a right,” he said. “We also know that it has a tremendous impact on this state’s economy. We unfortunately have a governor that did not allow the full benefits of the ACA to be felt. We would work toward a strengthening of the ACA.”

GOP Gov. Rick Scott, a former for-profit hospital chain executive who’s term-limited next year, has declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA to provide health coverage to more poor and working-poor Floridians. That decision was supported the Republican-controlled House.

Denise Wilson, a banking trainer, told of her young son’s struggle with Potocki-Shaffer syndrome, which affects bones and tissues. He’s needed surgery just to maintain his ability to move, she said.

She told of having “to go through hoops” to get him treatment: “And when you have a child with special needs, your life is hoops.”

And Avril Wood, a “state worker,” said her younger sister’s need for Crohn’s treatment has caused her family constant worries over paying for insurance and medications.

Crohn’s “causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

“My sister is loving and kind,” Wood said, verging on tears. “This has ravaged our family … My parents are wondering if they’re going to run out of money in their retirement. Given the choice between bankruptcy and keeping my sister alive, they will choose bankruptcy. And that thought is cruel.”

The 37-year-old Gillum was first elected to public office in 2003, when he became Tallahassee’s youngest city council member ever at 23. He was elected mayor in 2014.

He still faces an Leon County Sheriff’s Office investigation into whether he broke state ethics law by using a city-owned email program to send campaign-related and other political messages.

Other declared Democratic candidates for governor include former Tallahassee-area congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is likely to be the the first Republican to declare; his announcement is expected Wednesday in Bartow.

Gwen Graham calls on Rick Scott to veto ‘education-eviscerating’ budget

Hours after Florida lawmakers approved the new state spending plan, Gwen Graham is demanding Gov. Rick Scott veto the Legislature’s “education-eviscerating” budget.

In a statement Tuesday morning, the newly announced Democratic candidate for governor said, if elected, she would veto any budget that shortchanges Florida schools in favor of the “education industry.”

“For decades, Floridians have pleaded with their elected officials to support our public schools — but year after year, the legislature and governor abandon their responsibility to our children,” Graham said. “As a mother and PTA president, I saw firsthand how important every dollar is to Florida’s schools.”

Late Monday evening, legislators ended an extended 2017 legislative Session by approving an $83 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Critics argued the proposed spending plan is a significant blow to public education, with a modest $25 increase in PreK-12 schools per-student funding, much less than the $200 increase per student Scott requested.

Graham discussed her most recent “Workday” event last week at Miami Carol City Senior High, where the former congresswoman from Tallahassee worked alongside teachers “who struggle to pay off their personal student loans,” while spending their own money on school supplies.

“Once again, Republicans say this budget increases funding for students — but any teacher or parent can tell you it’s a lie,” Graham continued. “We haven’t yet recovered from Rick Scott’s first year of devastating education cuts, and now they want to reduce per-student funding to school districts even more.

“This terrible trend should end today with Governor Scott’s immediate veto of the budget and policy bill.”

“As governor,” she added. “I will veto any budget or policy that shortchanges our schools in favor of the education industry. I’ll cancel the legislature’s summer vacation and demand they start over from scratch. We no longer have time for rhetoric or games.

“Now is the time to hold Tallahassee politicians accountable and finally give our children the education they deserve.”

If Scott vetoes the entire state budget, lawmakers would have to return for a special session to recalculate. The governor has previously criticized cuts to incentive programs like VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida but has not gone as far as to publicly say he would veto the budget outright.

“I’m going to look at my options,” Scott told the Tampa Bay Times during a tour stop in Tampa Last week. “That’s an option I have. But what I do every year is I go through (the budget) and say what’s good for our Florida families? I represent everybody in the state, so I’m going to do what’s best for every family in the state.”

Annette Taddeo announces bid to replace Frank Artiles in Senate

Annette Taddeo is throwing her hat in the race to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles.

 Taddeo announced Tuesday she was running in the Senate District 40 special election to replace Artiles, the Miami-Dade Republican who resigned last month amid scandal.

“Through our campaign, we can right a wrong and show how this community can come together, regardless of race, gender or religion,” she said in a statement. “I know that in this election, residents from every part of Senate District 40, including those who stood firm in demanding Frank Artiles resign, will send a clear message to Tallahassee that the days of division are behind us.”

The 50-year-old Democrat is no stranger to campaigns. In 2016, she ran in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, where she faced former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in the Democratic Party. She received 49 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 51 percent.

According to Taddeo’s campaign, she carried 59 of the 91 precincts shared by the congressional and state Senate district.

“Miami-Dade families know that to get real results for our residents we need to take a people first approach to Tallahassee,” she said in a statement. “I am excited for the journey ahead and campaigning hard to earn the support of my neighbors in Senate District 40.”

Taddeo was former Gov. Charlie Crist’s running mate in 2014 when he ran for governor as a Democrat. In 2008, she challenged Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, receiving 42 percent of the vote to Ros-Lehtinen’s 58 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday the dates for the special election to replace Artiles, who resigned in April after he made national news after he accosted two black colleagues at a private club in Tallahassee. The special primary election is July 25, with a special general election on Sept. 26.

State Rep. Daisy Baez has already filed to run for the Senate District 40 seat, and has already grabbed the endorsements of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, both of whom are running for governor in 2018.

On the Republican side, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is considering a run. Former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla has already filed to run.

Joe Negron open to special session on medical marijuana

Senate President Joe Negron hasn’t closed the door to a special session to tackle medical marijuana.

The Stuart Republican said Monday he thinks the Legislature has a responsibility to be involved in the implementation of the 2016 medical marijuana, and said the Senate would discuss its options with the House and Gov. Rick Scott. His remarks came after the adjournment of the 2017 Legislative Session, during which lawmakers failed to pass an implementing bill.

“I think that’s something that now that session is over and our budget passed that we’ll confer with the House and governor, and then make a decision on whether that’s something we should do,” he told reporters Monday. “I think the Legislature does have a responsibility to be involved in that implementation, so that’s something we’ll look at.”

While lawmakers agreed on most key parts of an implementing bill, negotiations collapsed Friday, the final day the Legislature could take up policy issues, after the chambers couldn’t agree on the number of retail locations medical marijuana treatment centers could operate.

The House voted 99-16 on a bill that put the limit at 100 per treatment center. The Senate, which limited storefronts to five per license holder, did not take it up.

That now means the Department of Health will be charged with coming up with rules for patients, caregivers, doctors and treatment centers by July 3 and have them implemented by October.

Several advocates, including John Morgan, the bombastic Orlando Democrat who poured millions into the medical marijuana campaign, have called for a special session to address the issue. Morgan, who had a very public fall-out with his former ally Ben Pollara over proposed legislation, has said he would urge Scott to call a special session to implement the amendment.

He isn’t the only one calling for a special session. On Monday, Gwen Graham, a former U.S. representative and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, called for a special session, saying “failure to enact Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana, which passed with 71.32 percent approval in 2016, is just the latest example of the Legislature ignoring Florida voters.”

“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,” she 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.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

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.”

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