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Gwen Graham gun policy proposal leads to another Democratic primary scuffle

Within an hour, gubernatorial rival Andrew Gillum pounces on Graham's proposal.
File photo of Gwen Graham. [Times]
File photo of Gwen Graham. [Times]
Published Mar. 20, 2018
Updated Mar. 20, 2018

A Florida law that bars local governments from enacting restrictive gun policies has long drawn the ire of Sunshine State Democrats.

On Tuesday, Gwen Graham released her plan to fight that law.

The former congresswoman and Democratic candidate for governor says she will use state legal resources to help local governments challenge the law — signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 – in state and federal courts.

"As governor, I will work with cities and counties to restore local control and their ability to protect their communities by directing my Office of General Counsel to assist local governments challenging the state's preemption law," Graham said in a release.

Last week, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Graham's opponent in the Democratic primary, said cities should challenge the law en masse by passing illegal gun ordinances. With her announcement, Graham showed specifically how a governor might support those efforts.

It didn't take long for Gillum's campaign to pounce on the press release.

"I'm glad the Congresswoman's election year conversion on guns includes backing Mayor Gillum's fight with the gun lobby," Gillum communications director Geoff Burgan said in a campaign release issued within 90 minutes of Graham's. "It would have been nice for her to support his fight when she was a sitting Member of Congress."

Graham's release noted that the NRA "spent $300K to try to defeat" her when she ran for Congress in 2014.

It's not the first time Gillum has criticized Graham about her stance on guns. During an MSNBC appearance earlier this month, Gillum seized on a 2013 clip of Graham saying she is "a very big supporter of the Second Amendment."

"The Gwen Graham who ran for Congress would not recognize the Gwen Graham running for governor on the issue of guns," Gillum said on MSNBC. (Gillum endorsed Graham when she ran for Congress in 2014.)

Chris King, another Democratic candidate, also criticized Graham earlier this month for not co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban while in Congress. (Graham says she supports such a ban.)

A Graham spokesman noted at the time that, as a U.S. representative, Graham supported numerous pieces of gun legislation. Graham also joined her Democratic colleagues in a 2016 House floor sit-in to protest gun violence.

Check out our writeup of the latest Florida governor poll here.