The Democratic challenger for Florida’s Congressional District 2 seat Wednesday kicks off an eight-day 14-county campaign swing with a work day at a Tallahassee food bank. Gwen Graham is reviving a media event first her employed by her father, Bob, in the 1970s when he was a little know state senator running for governor.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet Gwen and get a sense of the North Florida values that Gwen talks about; the idea that by working together we get things accomplished, something that’s not happening in Washington right now,” said campaign spokesman Eric Conrad.
North Florida values is a Graham campaign theme that the candidate has said illustrates a commitment to work “across the aisle” to get things done.
Polls indicate that Gwen Graham and incumbent Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City are in a dead heat.
Southerland won reelection by 6 points in 2012 when the district went for Mitt Romney and in 2010 Gov. Rick Scott carried it. Graham’s 14-county campaign swing may be deploying her most valuable asset, her dad who served two terms as governor and three as a U.S. Senator.
Bob Graham is featured in television ads that began airing this week and will participate in Wednesday’s work day at a Second Harvest Food Bank and deliver meals to the elderly and children.
The former governor and First Lady Adele, along with the candidates siblings, nephews and nieces will participate in eight days of campaigning that on different days will include barbecues in Leon, Jefferson, Wakulla and Bay counties, a tour down the Apalachicola River, roundtable discussions with business leaders and the Wausau Possum Festival parade this Saturday.
The campaign swing concludes Wednesday Aug. 6 in Panama City. Conrad expects as many as a half dozen Grahams to work alongside or accompany the candidate each day.
Democrats have targeted Southerland as vulnerable and both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have reserved advertising time on Tallahassee and Panama City television stations for the fall campaign, Democrats $785,000 and the GOP $900,000.
Graham has raised more money that Southerland, $2 million to $1.5 million. Southerland’s two point lead in a March poll was within the margin of error.
No debates have been scheduled but the Panama City News Herald listed a handful of issues in an editorial calling for a “moderated discussion” between the two candidates.
Among the items included were the economy, healthcare, energy policy, fisheries and immigration.