Gwen Graham walks back comments about possible David Jolly lieutenant governor pick
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham speaks to reporters after announcing she is running for Florida governor in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Graham served one term in Congress, choosing not to seek re-election in 2016 after new congressional maps made her district firmly Republican. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Gwen Graham

Democrat Gwen Graham now says she’s committed to picking a Democrat as her lieutenant governor, after previously saying she was open to selecting former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly for the role.

An earlier report from POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo highlighted Graham’s comments on Jolly to the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast.  Jolly has been rumored to enter the race on a unity ticket for some time. Until now, the rumors have paired him with former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. On the podcast, Graham had said she’s eyeing both men as possible picks for lieutenant governor.

“I see my lieutenant governor selection as someone who’s going to be right by my side helping me get this state back on the right path,” said Graham on the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast. “And so Patrick would certainly fit that definition, as would David, as would all the other candidates for governor on the Democratic ticket at the moment. So it’s really going to be for me a thorough analysis of who can bring the most to help make the biggest difference in the state of Florida.”

She went on to say Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida’s 13th Congressional District, was a friend. Graham said she was looking for “someone who can help me govern.”

Now, Graham says a Jolly pick is out of the question. “For lieutenant governor, I will choose a Democrat who reflects my progressive values: a woman’s right to choose, supporting public schools, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding health care with a public option, and passing bold gun safety legislation.”

The Andrew Gillum campaign had called out Graham for her appeals to bipartisanship.

“It’s beyond frustrating that the self-described ‘very conservative’ Gwen Graham is already considering splitting the ticket to run with the GOP, especially with an energized Democratic base ready to vote Republicans out,” said Orlando state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, one of Gillum’s campaign surrogates.

Gillum supporters have already gone after Graham, accusing her of not being liberal enough. Just last week, a super PAC called The Collective launched a campaign ad attacking Graham’s voting record while she was in Congress. Graham sniped back at the Gillum camp, calling on them to denounce the ad.

Orlando state Rep. Amy Mercado said of the ad and Gillum, “These type of dirty tricks have no place in our state or our party, and he should immediately call for the ad to be taken down.”

Graham added: “This is the first public Democrat attacking Democrat that I have seen in this campaign. And it really does disappoint me. And I would hope Andrew would recognize that this is not the right thing to do and would ask The Collective PAC to pull it down because that ad is just full of lies.”

While Jolly is a Republican, he has emerged as a sharp critic of President Donald Trump, which could help negate any backlash of the pick from the Democratic base.

That criticism was noted by Graham in her announcement clarifying her position on Jolly. “While and I obviously disagree on many issues, like many progressives, I do respect his bravery taking on — more than even some Democrats in the race for governor have been willing to do. Every day, I am disgusted that more Republicans, like and , refuse to stand up to and defend decency and our democracy — refuse to place our country and our state ahead of politics. It is appalling.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


  • Jim Donelon

    May 14, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Not a fan of Gwen, but a good idea. Wish Andrew didn’t throw cold water on the idea.

  • Jim Donelon

    May 14, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Now Gwen has flipped flopped under pressure from Dem. party. She does not deserve your vote.


    May 15, 2018 at 11:02 am

    There is GENOCIDE going on in Florida that is state sponsored and no one is addressing it because both parties are at fault. Law Enforcement under a democrat Mayor are actively committing GENOCIDE against my family by abusing intelligence. Law Enforcement intelligence abuses are creating a superpower in law enforcement and GENOCIDE is the accepted practice to over ride accountability if state leaders ignore local law enforcement crimes. IT is well known everyone in the police dept knows the strong Mayor was gunning for my family to cover up past police crimes. And the state is encouraging GENOCIDE by calling victims mental to pretend they have no responsibility as they push local law enforcement to spread absolute serial stalking for GENOCIDE throughout the state.

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