Update 11:00 am: Graham says she plans on challenging conservative Republican Steve Southerland as a Democrat. But defeating him won’t be easy. Leon County is a Democratic stronghold but Graham faces an uphill battle in the more conservative districts to West, like Bay County, which Southerland has been able to hold on to. But Graham says she’s up to the challenge.
“We look forward to talking with the people of Bay County and all the constituents of this district, and making sure that everyone knows we take no vote for granted and we look forward to earning their vote," she said.
U.S. House Seats are up for election every two years. Current Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons had also been rumored to be considering challenging Southerland. Pons is also Graham's boss, who she calls a "very dear friend".
"I did speak with Superintendent Pons and I respect him greatly," she said. "He's been very kind and I know that he will have a great political future."
Pons has previously said he was looking at a 2016 run.
Florida’s congressional district 2 is considered highly competitive. Democrats targeted Southerland last election cycle but he was able to beat back a challenge by former state Democratic Senator Al Lawson. Democratic groups like the House Majority SuperPAC are again targeting the Seat.
Southerland rode the Tea Party wave back in 2010 to boot longtime conservative Democrat Allen Boyd, who represented the district from 1997-2011.
Listen to the full interview here:
Republican Congressman Steve Southerland beat back a challenge by former Democratic State Senator Al Lawson in 2012. This time around, the challenger is a person with a familiar name, whose father was once a popular Governor of Florida who also served in the U.S. Senate.
Gwen Graham, daughter of former Democratic Governor Bob Graham.
"I'm running for Congress to represent you with an independent voice in Washington. I will work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to create jobs, invest in education and balance our budget – with a plan that stands up for the middle class, keeps taxes low and protects Medicare and Social Security," she said in a statement.
Graham is a 1980 graduate of Leon High School. She earned a law degree from American University in 1988. She then went on to work in the private sector on energy and environmental issues.
She served as PTA president and chair of the School Advisory Council and works at the Leon County School District Office as Division Director for Professional Standards and Chief of Labor and Employee Relations.