Gwen Graham Archives - Florida Politics

Firefighters in Orlando, Miami back Jack Latvala for governor

Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala has picked up endorsements of two major firefighters unions in his quest for the Republican nomination to run for governor next year, his campaign announced Thursday.

The endorsements come less than 24 hours after Latvala formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday in Hialeah, Clearwater and Panama City.

Latvala received the endorsements of the Miami Association of Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 589; and of the Orlando Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1365.

“Local 1365 is grateful for the support that you have given to firefighters and other first responders during your time in the Florida Legislature,” Orlando Professional Firefighters President Ron Glass stated in a letter to Latvala quoted in a news release from Latvala’s campaign. “Your ability to reach consensus with members of both parties was instrumental in providing firefighters from across the state of Florida with stable careers, better working conditions and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity.”

Latvala faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for the Republican nomination. Democrats running include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Winter Park developer Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“The firefighters of this state have forged a very strong bond with you and you have proven capable of making the difficult decisions to ensure that your firefighters are afforded equitable safety condition and benefit levels,” Miami Association of Firefighters President Freddy Delgado stated in a separate letter quoted by the campaign. “Some of those decisions have included protection of our current defined benefit retirement and fighting for firefighter cancer presumption in the State of Florida.”

Latvala kicked off his campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah.

“I stood with more than 100 first responders when I kicked off my campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah yesterday to show my continued support for the men and women who work so tirelessly to protect all Floridians,” Latvala stated in the release. “I am humbled and honored to have their support and thank the Miami Association of Firefighters Local 587 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Orlando Professional Firefighters Local 1365 for joining me in my campaign to be the state’s next governor.”

Gwen Graham calls on Rick Scott to ‘immediately denounce’ Donald Trump’s Charlottesville comments

Rick Scott is set to sit down to lunch with President Trump this afternoon at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Gwen Graham says there’s no better time for him to do what he has declined to do all week — criticize the president for his remarks last weekend equating white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Public officials from coast to coast — both Democrats, and even some Republicans — have condemned Donald Trump’s outrageous remarks on the violence in Charlottesville, but there’s at least one glaring exception: Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has remained deafeningly silent,” the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said in a statement Thursday. “Silence is unacceptable in the face of a president who called white supremacists and neo-Nazis ‘very fine people’ and claimed ‘all sides’ were responsible for the violence that left three people dead.”

Scott and Trump are friends, and the governor had notably declined to address Trump’s controversial comments this week when he defended the white nationalists who demonstrated in Virginia and said they included “some very fine people.”

Trump laid some of the blame for the violence that broke out at the feet of “alt-left” counter-protesters; he also equated the Confederate General Robert E. Lee with America’s Founding Fathers. Florida Republicans like Marco Rubio, Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have called out the president directly for the comments, but Scott has remained notably silent.

“You can ask President Trump what he said,” Scott told reporters Wednesday when asked his thoughts about the president’s latest comments.

The governor went on to say that there was “no moral equivalency between the two sides,” and that as a Navy veteran, he didn’t go into the military to defend neo-Nazi’s.

“I urge all political leaders at the state, local and federal level – including the president- to focus on unity,” he continued, adding, “how do we come together, how do we create more love and less hate? We’ve got to eliminate this divisiveness in this country.”

Graham says it’s time for Scott to specifically call out Trump’s comments.

“I am calling on Governor Scott to immediately denounce President Trump’s remarks and confirm that white supremacists are not welcome in Florida,” she said.

Chris King gets backing of Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King has picked up the endorsement of the mayor of Eatonville, Florida’s oldest town incorporated as an African-American city.

Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole‘s endorsement is a double triumph for King, one of his first from elected officials, and a leader in the Orlando-area’s black community.

Eatonville, incorporated in 1887, is just a couple miles from King’s business offices in Winter Park.

“For some folks, Chris may be a new face, but I’ve known and felt the impact of his work in Central Florida for quite some time. From his work in affordable housing to his philanthropies in public schools, I know Chris to be a man of character, hard work, and inclusion,” Cole stated in a news release issued by King’s campaign.

“Florida is failing to meet the basic needs of its citizens – most acutely where jobs, housing, and health care are concerned. As the mayor of Eatonville, I’ve seen how far our community has come and how far we have to go,” Cole continued. “I’ve also seen how for too long communities of color have been forgotten, while elected officials pay lip service to both the unique and common challenges we face. I know with Chris we’ll have more than just a seat at the table: a real partner in bringing about economic change here in Eatonville and across the state.”

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor next year. Republican candidates include Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala, who formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday.

“Eddie Cole’s support means a lot to me,” King said. “Mayor Cole has spent his life in service to others and his community. I am committed to partnering with him and all of our leaders across the state as we remake the Florida economy into one that lifts up all communities, not just those with access to the powerful.”

Sometime surly senator enters Florida’s governor’s race

Jack Latvala — a powerful, sometimes surly state senator seen as a moderate Republican voice — entered the race for Florida Governor Wednesday, taking on a better-known, more conservative and better-funded primary opponent Adam Putnam for the GOP nomination to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Latvala publicly announced his candidacy at a fire station in a Hialeah, a Hispanic-majority city that borders Miami. In the crowd were groups of senior citizens, police officers and state employee union members. He also was joined by his son Chris, who is a state representative. He later planned to stop at a Tampa Bay-area aquarium in his hometown of Clearwater before ending the tour at a Panama City marina.

Latvala is considered a moderate Republican and told the group he is proud to have friends on both sides of the political aisle.

Republican challenger Putnam is the incumbent agriculture commissioner. Democrats seeking the seat Scott must leave due to term limits include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Leading up to his announcement, Latvala has spent time talking about the need to make sure rural Florida is also benefiting from the state’s economic rebound, and he’s spoken out about the need to treat opioid abuse as a crisis.

Latvala, 65, has served two stints in the Florida Senate, the first from 1994 to 2002, when he left because of term limits. He returned to the Senate in 2010 and will again be term-limited next year. He is the current Senate budget chairman and has previously led the chamber’s efforts to tighten ethics in state government and require political candidates to be more transparent about fundraising and campaign spending.

“He fights very hard for the issues he cares about, and sometimes that puts him at odds with some fellow party members, but he cares passionately,” said Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County GOP.

He’s not afraid to buck his party’s leadership and has taken more moderate views on issues such as immigration. He helped fight back an effort to change the state’s pension system that was supported by top Republicans and opposed by state workers, and helped kill a bill that would have opened Florida to fracking, an effort that was supported by many in the GOP.

But he will be entering the race as an underdog to Putnam, 43, who first ran for office 22 years ago and has seemingly spent his entire adult life building toward a run for governor.

“Commissioner Putnam has positioned himself well for this race and he’s been working for it, and I think he has the infrastructure at the early end to have that place as the front-runner,” said Power, whose group hosted Putnam Tuesday night.

Putnam was asked Tuesday night about Latvala’s entry into the race, and he chose not to discuss the new challenger.

“I’m focused on the race that I’m running. If you ain’t the lead dog in the fight, the view never changes,” Putnam said. “I’m just going to be working grass roots, pig-pullings and fish fries from Key West to Chumukla.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is also considering running for governor, wouldn’t say a word when asked about Latvala getting in the race, simply shaking his head “no” as the Leon County GOP barbecue wrapped up

Latvala, however, hasn’t been shy about poking Putnam, using Twitter to jab him even before submitting paperwork to get in the race last week.

After Putnam attended a Possum Festival, an annual event in a small Panhandle town that’s popular with politicians, Latvala tweeted, “While there will be a time to pose with possums, I am more focused on jobs in NW FL.”

And when Putnam said he was a proud “sellout” to the National Rifle Association, Latvala tweeted a political cartoon mocking Putnam, adding his own message, “I will never sell out to anyone, anytime.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Aerospace workers’ union endorses Gwen Graham

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced it is endorsing Democrat Gwen Graham for governor, her campaign announced Tuesday.

“With 39 lodges across the state of Florida, you’ll find our union members working in manufacturing and aerospace from Pensacola to Miami,” Frank Ortis, president of the Florida State Council of Machinists, stated in a news release. “We are excited to endorse Gwen Graham and ready to elect her Florida’s next governor. Gwen has the experience and leadership Florida needs to create jobs, raise wages and lift up working families.”

The Machinists and Aerospace Workers is the second major union to endorse in the race for governor, joining the United Steelworkers, which endorsed Graham in June.

Graham, a former Congresswoman from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King in seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018.

In Congress, Graham co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and authored the bipartisan Middle STEP Act to expand technical education.

“For almost twenty years the politicians in Tallahassee have had the wrong priorities for the wrong people. They’ve sold out to special interests and forgot the working men and women who built our state and drive our economy.” Graham stated in the news release. “We must do the common sense things other states have already done, like raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave — but those proposals alone aren’t enough. As governor, I will fight to protect Florida’s aerospace industry, create new manufacturing jobs and expand technical education in our schools.”

Frederica Wilson endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson has endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to be the next governor of Florida.

Wilson, from Miami Gardens, joins U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings as Democratic members of Congress who have endorsed Gillum over two Democratic rivals, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and developer Chris King of Winter Park.

“I am very excited to endorse Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida. Mayor Gillum is one of Florida’s brightest young political minds and most energetic public servant,” Wilson said in a written statement issued by Gillum’s campaign. “He has the courage to confront Florida’s biggest challenges: protecting access to affordable healthcare, building a more inclusive economy, revitalizing public education, and addressing climate change and rising sea level crisis. Florida needs a leader like Mayor Gillum whom we can trust to rebuild our state into one that works for everyone,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

“I’m humbled and honored to receive Congresswoman Wilson’s endorsement,” Gillum stated. “She has long been a “Voice for the Voiceless” and stands out as one of Florida’s most respected leaders. She’s a role model and I look forward to working with her to rebuild the Sunshine State into one that works better for all Floridians.”

Chris King calls for removal of all Confederate monuments

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King called Tuesday for the removal of all Confederate memorials in Florida.

Taking to Facebook, King posted, “It’s time to remove all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people.

“And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day,” he added.

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. The Republican field has Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater who’ve filed, with Latvala planning to make an official announcement Wednesday. Others, including Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran are raising money but have made no commitments.

Gillum also called for action on the monuments, but first called for conversation on them. Last week he also informed Walton County he would not be visiting their community until they took down the Confederate flag in front of the courthouse.

“Like many people, I want local governments to take action to remove these monuments. But more than just the necessary step of removing them, we need a real conversation in Florida about inclusion and building community,” Gillum said in a statement. “I created the Longest Table initiative in Tallahassee so neighbors could sit at a table together and discuss the most pressing issues facing them and their communities. Tough but honest conversations will help heal this state and country.”

King was more succinct.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case,” King continued. “Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.”

Confederate memorials have been sources of racial tension for generations, but recently their presence has evoked public demonstrations and demands for their removal, notably in Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa, and now in Jacksonville, while supporters of the monuments contend they are part of the state’s history. Last weekend efforts seeking removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Va., led to a protest march of white supremacists and the killing of an opposition protester, setting the heat even higher.

On Monday Gov. Rick Scott said the time will come for conversations on Confederate monuments. King said in his Facebook post the time is now.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy,” King continued. “In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

Gwen Graham spends ‘workday’ at camp for sick children

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent a campaign “workday” this week helping out at a Eustis summer camp for children with serious illnesses.

“The children of our state are so fortunate to have Camp Boggy Creek. Every child deserves to experience the love, joy and growth I saw here, today.” Graham said. “I am thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers who dedicate their time giving back to our community. Camp Boggy Creek is a great example of all we can achieve when we work together to serve others.”

Graham’s workdays were a staple of her successful ouster of former Republican Rep. Steve Southerland when she ran for congress in 2014. Her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, also held workdays during his many successful campaigns.

Graham spent the day helping out the counselors and volunteers at the camp, which was founded by actor Paul Newman and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1996 based on a premise “that every child, no matter their illness, could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand in hand with camp.”

One of the counselors Graham worked with, Leia Schwartz, first went to Camp Boggy Creek as a camper after severe asthma caused her lungs to collapse and severely limited the physical activities she could participate in.

“Camp Boggy Creek gave me the opportunity to experience the same fun other children had. For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t so different, after all. Now, I give back to help other children laugh, play and grow,” said Schwartz, now a student at Stetson University.

Camp CEO June Clark said she was grateful Graham spent one of her workdays at the camp.

“She learned firsthand about the fulfilling experiences we provide to seriously ill children in Florida. I encourage everyone learn more about Camp Boggy Creek and our mission to help children and families,” Clark said.

Gwen Graham talks July 4 party presence, climate change, ‘fire and fury’

In a matter of minutes Thursday night in Lake Mary, gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham went from indignation over Gov. Rick Scott‘s climate change policies to laughing at why President Donald Trump used the words “fire and fury,” to near tears in explaining her presence at a July 4 party with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The moments, coming during a question and answer session with the Seminole County Democrats, illustrated how well Graham can be received by Democrats with her familiar Democratic messages, and yet how her background of old money still leaves her having to defend herself to skeptical progressives.

Earlier, Graham covered numerous policy positions in rapid fire, from support for a minimum wage increase to a call to reintroduce the arts, extra curricular activities, and technical training into schools, during a 13 minute speech to the Seminole Democratic Executive Committee.

Then during the subsequent question and answer period she really loosened up, calling Scott’s [and President Donald Trump‘s] climate change positions “criminal” and making fun of them, and then becoming emotional when challenged to explain how her she could distance herself from the influence of money if she goes to parties with people like Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Graham has responded previously, primarily in a written statement, to questions about the ritzy party and its odd-bedfellow guest list of Democrats and Republicans, along with other rich and famous people.

On Thursday, she laid it out in a very personal and emotional manner, and took it live, as one woman webcasted her response on Facebook Live. Graham’s voice began to break as she described the relationships between herself and her cousin who threw the party, Lally Weymouth, and the rest of the family, including Gwen Graham’s parents, former Gov. Bob and Adele Graham, and Weymouth’s late parents, Philip and Katherine Graham.

It was important for her parents and her to attend, she explained.

And she had no idea PresidentTrump’s daughter and son-in-law would be there too, she insisted.

“I was there to take care of my parents,” she said. “I did not talk to them [Trump and Kushner.] I did not approach them.”

“I’m sorry to get emotional,” she added, “but it was hurtful to see these attacks come. This was about family for me. I love my cousin. I love my family. It was important for me to be there for family. And by the way, the moment I saw Ivanka and Jared I was, ohhh, gosh. I stayed away, on the other side of the tent.”

That led to a follow up question, pressing her on whether “big money, dark money, big corporations” would be a part of her. She denied influence, but would not dismiss the need for money.

“In order to run for office you have to raise a lot of money,” Graham said. “You know how much money I have to raise, I’ve been told, in order to be competitive with Republicans? Quite a bit. So, I mean, I’m not sure which groups you’re referring to, what you’re talking about, I haven’t taken any corporate money, if that’s what you’re talking about.”

Moments before she was expressing outrage with Scott, and making fun of Scott and Donald Trump

“It is criminal what Gov. Scott has done in Tallahassee to ignore the biggest threat to Florida, which is rising sea levels. Rising sea levels, we are on a peninsula! We have water all around us! There is no state, there is no state in the nation that is more impacted by climate change than Florida,” she said. “So what we need to do is planning for what is inevitable. The water is already here. Everyone saw what happened in Miami Beach.

“We need to prepare for it. We need to recognize it. We need to deal with it. We need to be putting money into infrastructure projects,” she continued. “We need to make sure we do all we can to move to renewable energy in this state, to do our part.”

She said as governor it would be her responsibility to immediately start developing plans to deal with rising sea levels.

“You can deny the use of words, but you cannot deny the reality on the ground. You know what now? Guess who recently said we’re not gong to allow the use of the words climate change in the federal government? Donald J. Trump. Also known as Rick Scott’s BFF.”

Speaking of Trump, she segued, “When Donald J. Trump said, ‘fire and fury’ [declaring what America’s response would be if North Korea made any more threats,] who watched Game of Thrones Sunday night?

“That’s where he got it! That is where! The fire and the fury! He got it from Game of Thrones! I love that show!”

Gwen Graham pledges public education as her priority, blasts Richard Corcoran

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged Thursday to a number of educators and parents concerned about public education that she would make public education her top priority.

While meeting with a roundtable of teachers, former teachers, public education advocates, and parents in an Orlando restaurant Thursday, Graham blasted Republican efforts to promote charter schools, which she said was at the expense of public schools, and renewed her vows to abolish testing and school grades and bring back technical education.

“I give you my commitment, as governor this is going to be my priority,” Graham said. “I’m going to work on this every day. And we’re going to start from day one.”

Graham, the former congresswoman and former schools lawyer from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. Adam Putnam is the only major Republican running, though others, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Senate Appropriations Committee Jack Latvala are mulling runs.

At the round table and later speaking with reporters, Graham blasted Corcoran in particular for cutting the deal that led to passage of House Bill 7069 in the Special Legislative Session this summer, a bill she characterized as a Republican attack on public education in order to promote private charter schools.

“What I believe is going on is a desire to privatize our school system, and strip resources away from schools that desperately need additional resources. They don’t need to have what 7069 has done, which is to take funding away from Title I schools, to strip away options for school districts if it gets a C or a D grade,” she said.

“And don’t even me started on the grading, because we’re going to end the grading of schools,” she added. “Everywhere I go I hear how damaging it is to the schools, the school districts, the kids themselves. There’s no point to it other than as a way to diminish and demoralize schools that are working so hard, and eventually strip the funding away from schools so we can privatize them.”

And then she turned to Corcoran personally, noting that his wife Anne founded a charter school.

“The legislators that behind this are making money,” she said. “They financially benefit from what he is doing to the detriment of nine out of ten kids in Florida who go to public schools.”

 

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons