Some would say there is one most important component of a political campaign: an opponent.
For first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, that puzzle piece fell into place on Wednesday, as Mary Thomas entered the race for the Republican nomination in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
With a contender for Graham’s seat, Thomas, a Tallahassee attorney, triggered another essential modern campaign feature – the fundraising email.
Since it is often challenging — and gratuitous – for an unopposed candidate to raise money, an adversary gives both sides a chance to shift money pitches into high gear.
Proof positive is a new email from Graham’s campaign, which includes a callback to her narrow victory in 2014, where she triumphed over incumbent Steve Southerland by a little over a single point. And that squeaker makes the 2016 race very appealing to both Republicans and Democrats.
“So with everyone eyeing our race,” the email says, “we need to show we have what it takes to keep Gwen’s strong independent voice fighting for Florida’s 2nd District.”
It’s followed by an appeal for a “rush” donation of $50 or more.
Since her election, it has been an uphill battle for Graham to “bring the North Florida Way” to Washington, D.C. – fighting congressional perks, helping veterans and creating jobs in her district.
But it just isn’t enough.
“The GOP isn’t concerned with facts,” she says. “They’ll do whatever it takes to win back this seat and send someone to Congress to further their own partisan agenda.”
And don’t you know it.
Certainly, Thomas – who is seeking to be the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress — will be only the first of many Republicans to challenge Graham.
So brace yourselves, CD 2 – for now the campaigning begins in earnest.