Competing ads fly once again in Graham vs. Southerland scrum

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With only three weeks left in the campaign, ad wars heat up once again in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, the intense battle between Democrat Gwen Graham and Republican Congressman Steve Southerland.

Part of the latest wave of new TV ads to hit North Florida airwaves starting today includes two 30-second spots courtesy of the folks at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

One ad directly attacks Graham – the daughter of Bob Graham, a popular former U.S. Senator and Florida governor — saying that she cannot be “trusted” in Congress. The other lauds Southerland, the two-term Republican, and his “proven record” of fighting for North Florida Families.

Within hours, Graham’s camp returned advertising fire, calling out Southerland’s “increasingly frantic and false” attacks. Her campaign responds with its own ad, which holds Southerland accountable for false accusations against Graham “over national security” while highlighting the Democrat’s views on defeating the ISIS terrorist threat in Syria and Iraq.

The first NCCC spot, entitled “Both,” says North Florida families simply “can’t trust Gwen Graham.”

“Candidate A claims to be an independent voice,” the narrator says. “But Candidate B has taken thousands of dollars from Nancy Pelosi and worked for ultra-liberal Howard Dean. Candidate A says she’ll protect our seniors, but Candidate B supports Obamacare, which cuts Medicare by over $700 billion.”

“So who can we trust,” the ad asks. “Neither, because they’re both Gwen Graham.”

The second spot, called “One Choice,” highlights Southerland’s record of fighting for families in the district that covers much of the eastern Florida Panhandle.

“Putting North Florida first,” the ad says. “It’s what Steve Southerland does every day in Congress.”

The ad also highlights the congressman’s efforts to “protect women from violence and exploitation … and to stop excessive regulations that threaten our jobs and our way of life.”

According to NRCC representative Katie Prill, both ads provide voters with a clear choice this November.

“They can vote for a proven leader like Steve Southerland, who has gotten the job done for them in Congress,” she says in a statement. “Or they can vote for a Nancy Pelosi puppet like Gwen Graham, who will continue to push Obama’s liberal agenda in North Florida.”

“Both” and “One Choice” are now available online.

Soon after the NCCC announcement, Graham’s campaign came back with another ad, this one about “struggling incumbent” Southerland’s false claims.

“Steve Southerland’s desperate campaign…now frantic and pathetic,” says the narrator. “Falsely attacking Gwen Graham on national security while Graham stays focused on attacking ISIS.”

“A wife and mother of three, Gwen Graham says the President and Congress were too slow protecting our families from the ISIS threat,” the ad continues. “The Graham approach: Aggressive airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.”

Graham spokesperson Eric Conrad points out that Graham has consistently admonished both Congress and The White House for the slow response to the ISIS threat. Conrad adds that Graham favors aggressive and unrelenting airstrikes, and echoes Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s call for more Special Forces units to infiltrate and destroy the ISIS terrorist network where they hide.

“Today’s ad makes Gwen’s position on national security abundantly clear,” Conrad says. “And Congressman Southerland should pay attention.”

“Focused” is now also on YouTube.



“One Choice”:

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.