TALLAHASSEE — Florida Democrat Alan Grayson vowed to stay in the state's Senate race despite calls from party leaders to stand down over abuse claims from his children's mother, and he alleged she was the abuser who repeatedly hit him and their five children.
Grayson previously has made the same claims in court documents during a messy divorce and pointed to them as well as a video that shows Lolita Carson-Grayson throwing kitchen objects at one of their children. The video was recorded by that child and shown by Grayson's campaign to the Associated Press.
The unpredictable liberal firebrand has defied Democratic leaders' wishes by challenging their favored candidate, moderate Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, in the Aug. 30 Florida primary. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and No. 3 Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer have both called on Grayson to drop out after Politico detailed four police reports and medical records, filed by the mother of Grayson's children, alleging he abused her. Two liberal groups have pulled their endorsements, and Grayson's campaign confirmed Thursday that four staffers were quitting. But Grayson is refusing to back down.
"I've had so many people come up to me wherever I am that say they support me and believe in me," Grayson said in the telephone interview, expressing his determination to stay in the race.
The latest twist with Grayson only adds to Democrats' headaches in Florida, a crucial swing state that they had high hopes of winning when it looked like incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio was going to retire. Instead, following Rubio's failed presidential bid, Senate GOP leaders lured him into announcing late last month that he would run for re-election.
Pointing to court documents filed in an effort to gain custody of his children, Grayson told the AP that Lolita Carson-Grayson once came at him with a knife, and he defended himself.
Those documents say Carson-Grayson engaged in "monstrous destructive behavior." They accuse her of biting their then 14-year-old child and twisting another child's fingers so badly that the child had to be taken to the hospital. They claim Carson-Grayson called police on her children and lied to authorities in attempts to have them arrested.
A photo provided by the campaign shows another child with bite marks on his arm.
Lolita Grayson told Fairfax County, Va., police in 1994 and 1999 that the congressman had been hitting her for several years. In 2005, she made a similar claim to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, saying he had previously hit her "four or five times," but she didn't want to have him arrested.
Shortly after she filed for divorce in 2014, she told police the congressman shoved her into a door, but the investigation was quickly closed after police were given video, taken by a congressional staffer, that showed she struck him, but he didn't hit her.
Attempts to reach Carson-Grayson by phone were unsuccessful. She didn't reply to an email asking for more information. Her lawyer has not returned messages left with his office.