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Why is the Republican Governors’ Association obsessed with Gwen Graham?

Nine of their last 'hits' from Florida have focused on the former Congresswoman.
Gwen Graham released a new digital ad Tuesday, April 3. Credit: Gwen Graham for Governor via YouTube. [Screen grab from YouTube.]
Gwen Graham released a new digital ad Tuesday, April 3. Credit: Gwen Graham for Governor via YouTube. [Screen grab from YouTube.]
Published May 24, 2018|Updated May 24, 2018

If there is a candidate for Florida Governor that the Republican Governors Association doesn't seem to like, it's Gwen Graham.

Nine of the association's latest news releases from Florida take aim at the the former Congresswoman, who is considered a front-runner but slightly behind in polls to former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

The releases, all in the month of May, have the typical headlines you'd expect from members of the opposite party, calling Graham "desperate" or "phony" or having been "caught misleading voters."

A screenshot of the RGA’s website.
A screenshot of the RGA’s website.

The association, whose stated purpose is "electing and supporting Republican governors," apparently has someone surreptitiously recording the candidate. Its latest release features a video by someone secretly recording while asking Graham a question about taxes at a campaign event.

The RGA hasn't focused solely on Graham, though. The last time they did a press release that targeted another candidate was back in March, when they did a post mentioning that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is "catching fire" among Democrats. (They previously noted that Gillum is "surging" among Democrats.)

Why the focus on Graham?

"More than any other candidate running in the Democratic primary for Florida governor, Gwen Graham's campaign has been plagued by missteps, gaffes, and flip-flops," said Jon Thompson, RGA's communications director, in an email. "Graham consistently provides direct evidence why she can't be trusted to lead Florida, and we are committed to ensuring the media and voters are aware of her actions."

He noted that RGA has highlighted the Levine and Gillum campaigns, too.

The current chairman of the RGA is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for senate, was vice chairman of the organization last year.

As for Graham's camp, they're brushing it off:

"Focusing so many of their attacks on Democrat Gwen Graham, seems like 'R.G.A.' really stands for 'Republican Graham Anxiety,'" Graham campaign manager Julia Woodward said in a statement. "The Republican Governor's Association fears 20 years of one-party rule is coming to an end in Florida, and they clearly know Gwen is the one who's going to end the Republican lock on the governor's office in November."


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