Democrats use rubber ducks to taunt Steve Southerland

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Voters in Florida’s Second Congressional District are calling on U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland with a simple message: stop “ducking” debates with Gwen Graham, his Democratic opponent.

On Wednesday, Florida Democratic Party volunteers delivered more than five dozen rubber ducks to Southerland’s Panama City field office to protest his refusal to debate. The ducks symbolize 67 days since Southerland failed to respond to Graham’s debate challenge.

Each rubber duck had hand-written notes saying, “Dear Steve, please stop ducking debates,” and “Debate!”

“It’s been 67 days and Congressman Southerland is still refusing to debate — but that’s not surprising since Congressman Southerland can’t defend his record of shutting down the government and complaining that his taxpayer funded salary isn’t high enough,” said Florida Democratic Party representative Joshua Karp. “It’s past time for Congressman Southerland to stop ducking debates and hiding from North Florida residents and come clean about his record of dysfunctional Washington politics.”

As of Wednesday, Southerland continues to refuse to schedule debate appearances, saying he will only do so when Graham denounces “liberal outside groups who are smearing Steve’s record and misleading voters.”

Karp points out that the Panama City Republican himself benefited from $1.1 million in outside spending against his opponent in 2010 and another $1.5 million against his opponent in 2012.

In addition, he noted that Southerland even called out former opponents for not attending debates.

Graham and Southerland are facing off in November for the region covering the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle, the Big Bend along the Emerald Coast, and both Tallahassee and parts of Panama City.

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 and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.