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Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

No one blew last week's Democratic gubernatorial debate, but two candidates stood out
The four Democratic nominees for governor met Wednesday in the first gubernatorial debate in Tampa. From left to right: Chris King, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum. [WTVT-Ch. 13]
The four Democratic nominees for governor met Wednesday in the first gubernatorial debate in Tampa. From left to right: Chris King, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum. [WTVT-Ch. 13]
Published Apr. 22, 2018
Updated Apr. 22, 2018

Winner of the week
Gwen Graham. The former congresswoman from Tallahassee was the center of attention during a televised debate among the major Democratic gubernatorial candidates, with her rivals hitting her from multiple sides and signaling they view her formidably. Graham handled the pressure comfortably. "Gwen and the men," she said with a chuckle as the criticism kept coming.

Runner up 1: Chris King. The rookie politician from Winter Park also had a strong debate performance, and is emerging as the most substantive and policy-oriented candidate in the primary.
Runner up 2: Ashley Moody. The Republican attorney general candidate saw state Rep. Ross Spano drop out of the race to run for congress, she has won a string of unofficial straw poll votes by party activists across Florida — including in the backyard rival Jay Fant of Jacksonville — and she continues to dominate the GOP field in law enforcement endorsements.

Loser of the week
Marco Rubio. Once again fueling widespread concern that Florida's junior senator may need medical attention for a missing backbone, Rubio flip-flopped on his opposition to Trump's nominee for NASA administrator, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma. Rubio and Bill Nelson had been united in opposing a politician for a job rather than an experienced expert. But in casting a crucial deciding vote for Bridenstine last week, Rubio said the president should have "significant discretion" in making appointments. That never stopped Rubio from routinely blocking President Barack Obama's picks.