A former Congresswoman from North Florida and 2018 candidate for Governor officially has a new role.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Gwen Graham Wednesday to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs for the Department of Education.
President Joe Biden nominated Graham for the role in April, and no resistance to her nomination surfaced.
Upon her nomination, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona hailed Biden’s pick.
“Graham brings decades of invaluable experience as a public education leader, federal legislator, and public servant to this role,” Cardona said. “As a graduate of public schools and the parent of public school graduates, she is keenly aware of the importance of a strong public education system that serves all students well.
“Graham’s prior service to her local communities and to our country will be instrumental in shaping and implementing the Department’s legislative goals and strategies.”
Graham is a political legacy. She is the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Her truncated career in the U.S. Congress, a casualty of redistricting in 2016 that made it no longer possible for a self-styled moderate Democrat to win that district, led to her run for Governor.
Graham was the front-runner in most polls of the race, though ultimately it was former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum who got the nomination.
The former Congresswoman joins the Department of Education at a time when the federal government and the state of Florida have been mired in a battle about federal, state, and local prerogatives, especially involving mask mandates. Gov. Ron DeSantis has messaged regularly about standing in Biden’s way on these matters.
Graham’s confirmation also comes at the same time DeSantis and Florida have brooked another controversy. Florida is the only state not to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education that’s required before more than $2.3 billion in federal aid for Florida schools can be released, according to a letter sent to the state Monday.
DeSantis’ office contends that previous federal aid is still being allocated to districts, and there is no real urgency for the filing.
Content from The Associated Press was used in this report.