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Update: Fmr. Gov Graham's Daughter To Challenge Congressman Southerland


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.

0402 Graham On Run EDIT.mp3
Gwen Graham on why she's decided to challenge Congressman Steve Southerland.

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.


Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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