Centrist Democrat Gwen Graham is leaving her second district seat in Congress after one term. But Graham is setting the table for a 2018 gubernatorial bid.
One casualty of Florida’s redistricting saga was Democrat Gwen Graham. The North Florida congresswoman saw her toss-up seat go dark red, and decided not to fight a losing battle against a Republican challenger. But as she wraps up her time in Congress, she’s setting her sights on another toss-up seat: governor.
“I have not been shy about sharing that I really look forward to the opportunity to run for governor,” Graham says, “and I look forward to the opportunity to serve the people—all the people of Florida.”
Graham brags she helped constituents get $2.5 million in federal benefits while cutting her own office’s expenditures by $375,000. One of the people she helped is Iraq war veteran John Goodson. He has PTSD and struggled dealing with the Veterans Affairs department.
“The VA was just really bad about prescribing all kinds of crazy medications, and due to Gwen Graham and her office I was able to get with a non-VA provider,” Goodson says. “And I’m getting the healthcare that I deserve and I couldn’t have done it without her office.”
Between her office’s thrift and her work with vets like Goodson, Graham is burnishing her centrist credentials. There are a lot of GOP voters in Florida, and if Graham hopes to succeed in a midterm election, she’ll need to convince many of them she’s sensitive to their concerns. But Graham is still a Democrat, and she believes Republican dominance hasn’t been good for the state.
“I believe in a balance in government,” Graham says. “I believe having multiple voices in the room who have different opinions and then coming out of those discussions with the best outcome is how you find the right solutions for this state.”
Graham says she wants to run for governor, but the decision may not be in her hands. Recently her husband found out he has cancer, and until they know more about his prognosis, Graham’s plans are on hold.