Saturday, January 20, 2018
Politics

Democrat Gwen Graham takes heat for right-leaning votes

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, who unseated Republican Steve Southerland in November, is under fire from Democrats for votes in favor of the Keystone pipeline, to roll back Wall Street reforms and other issues, illustrating the difficulty she faces in a district with a sizable conservative base.

The rift is evident on Facebook, where Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant posted a photo of her and Graham on Tuesday and the comment section filled up with negative assessments of Graham.

"Yeah it's a great picture, now what about this Keystone pipeline crap?" one person wrote.

Said another: "So disappointed. Might as well have Southerland there. Especially your vote on weakening Dodd Frank regulations on Wall Street. Regretting contributing to your campaign."

Some of the commenters do not appear to live in Graham's district, so it's not necessarily representative of widespread feelings among voters. But the criticism is notable and shows how Graham has quickly taken on a statewide profile as Democrats are eager to cultivate talent amid disappointing results in past elections.

"I was an early supporter of Gwen and am shocked, heartbroken, and furious at her votes in lockstep with right wing Republicans FOR the Keystone pipeline, (have you seen the Yellowstone oil spill this week where 50,000 gallons have spilled from a pipeline running through it and has ruined the drinking water for humans — never mind the animals?), FOR gutting Dodd Frank (really?), FOR a classic ultra-right wing initiative to require cost/benefit analysis of every regulatory change (which even the Republican controlled FL legislature has repeatedly vetoed), FOR a ridiculous change to the ACA which does nothing more than punish working families while simultaneously putting more money into the pockets of WalMart. And this is only her FIRST WEEK in Congress."

More: "She also voted for Keystone XL and to dismantle regulations including under the Clean Air Act. Why?! Please tell her to vote like a Democrat and not a Tea Party member."

Graham's balancing act is not unlike Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who has voted with Republicans on a number of issues, including health care. It helped isolate Murphy from attacks in the 2014 election and he won a return trip to D.C. Then there's Democratic Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who last year did more to help Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi with their campaigns, than his fellow Democrats.

Murphy and Buckhorn, like Graham, is seen as a future statewide candidate.

"I promised to bring the North Florida Way to Washington — and that means working with both parties to reach common sense solutions," Graham told the Buzz. "Now, I'm following through with that promise and focusing on creating jobs, improving education and ending the gridlock in Congress. Neither party is right 99 percent of the time, so the people of North Florida expect us to work together to get things done."

Her moves have drawn praise, including an editorial in the News Herald of Panama City. "It seems clear that Graham is making a good faith effort to work with Republicans on the important issues of the day."

In a statement to the Buzz, Leon County Democratic state committeewoman Tabitha Frazier said: "I know that many liberal Democrats had been hoping for a party-line voter when it came to Gwen, one of the few Democratic wins in the entire country. But the majority of North Florida voters are moderate and she campaigned to victory as a moderate. Gwen's independent leadership and across-the-aisle style in Congress are exactly what she promised, and it's a refreshing change from Rep. Southerland's tea party priorities and extreme partisan ways."

Twitter jab

Rand Paul has become the trash talker of 2016.

As Jeb Bush met Thursday with Mitt Romney, Paul took to twitter. "Mitt Romney's friendship band to Jeb Bush at today's meeting in Utah," he wrote above a picture with a bracelet that read "Common Core."

But friendship was misspelled as "frienship." Paul replaced it but Kristy Campbell, Bush's spokeswoman, was too quick.

"You misspelled friendship. Maybe there is something to be said for higher standards?" she tweeted.

CFO on 'Connections'

Check out chief financial officer Jeff Atwater on Political Connections on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Braynon to lead

State Sen. Oscar Braynon II, D-Miami Gardens, will be the next Senate Democratic Leader. His term begins in November 2016. Braynon was selected for the role by a unanimous vote of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Kathleen McGrory contributed to this week's Buzz.

 
Comments
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for ...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES ó There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18
Rick Baker leaving Edwards Group, promoting new book

Rick Baker leaving Edwards Group, promoting new book

ST. PETERSBURG ó Rick Baker is opening a new chapter in his life. So far, the future remains an open book.The former two-term mayor announced Sunday that heís resigning his position as president of the Edwards Group effective Jan. 31.Baker has worked...
Published: 01/18/18
Madeira Beach voters have clear choices as battle lines form over growth

Madeira Beach voters have clear choices as battle lines form over growth

By Sheila Mullane EstradaTimes CorrespondentMADEIRA BEACH ó Voters here can either end or continue the cityís divisive politics on March 13. They will also decide how the city grows.The two commission seats that now represent pro-growth and pro-devel...
Published: 01/18/18