1. Florida Politics

Democrat Gwen Graham takes heat for right-leaning votes

“... The people of North Florida expect us to work together,” Rep. Gwen Graham says.
Published Jan. 25, 2015

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.


  1. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attends an executive session of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    The senator drew backlash for the claim on ABC’s “The View.”
  2. Herman Lindsey, a former death row inmate who was exonerated, holds a letter that he and other wrongfully convicted men delivered Tuesday to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking him to stop the execution of James Dailey. Witness to Innocence
    Former death row inmates delivered a letter to the governor’s office Tuesday asking him to stay the execution of James Dailey over questions of innocence. DeSantis won’t budge.
  3. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Kuehne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The vote is expected to be seen as a political victory for the governor and validation for the families of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
  4. Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, speaks on the floor of the Florida House. Grall is sponsoring a bill for the second time that would require parental consent for minors to obtain an abortion.
    The legislation would enact a consent requirement for minors.
  5. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. "OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Times
    He could use his position on the Board of Clemency to allow nonviolent felons to serve on juries and run for office.
  6. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, says the Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize both public education and school choice during the 2020 Florida session. The caucus held a news conference on Oct. 22, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The caucus announced its 2020 goals for justice, housing and other key issues, as well, with members saying they will stick together to pursue them.
  7. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
Florida Governor elect Ron DeSantis, right, thanks supporters including Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, left, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Orlando. DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    This new fact indicates an attempt to directly influence DeSantis’ early policy agenda as he took office, one that DeSantis said was unsuccessful.
  8. Pre-season baseball practice at Wesley Chapel High School. Lawmakers want to ensure student-athletes remain safe in the Florida heat as they participate in high school sports. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    PreK-12 Innovation chairman Rep. Ralph Massullo expects legislation requiring some ‘simple things.’
  9. President Donald Trump speaking during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    And few people are on the fence.
  10. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.