Gwen Graham kicks-off 8-day, 14-county campaign swing — with dad in tow

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Bob Graham paused from sorting food at a Second Harvest Food bank to talk about the benefits of work, more specifically from his workdays, a tradition he started during a 38-year political career.

“You learn about people. The people you are going to be dealing with both at work here and that are served by the Second Harvest Food Bank,” said Graham, a former governor who retired as a U.S. senator in 2005.

Graham, Wednesday,  helped daughter Gwen kick off an eight day 14 county campaign swing through the 2nd Congressional District. Gwen Graham is a Democrat from Tallahassee challenging incumbent Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, in a race that both parties believe it can win.

The former governor may be Gwen Graham’s most effective weapon in the campaign.

Bob Graham won five consecutive statewide elections, is a Democratic icon and work days are part of his legend.

The idea came about after a High School English teacher remarked to Graham, then chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that a problem with politicians making education policy is that they have no experience in education.

The first workday was in 1974 when Graham taught a government class at Miami’s Carol City High School. Graham has since worked side by side with garbage collectors, lay electrical wiring in the state capitol, served time as a prison guard and worked in a sewer plant.

“Work days changed Bob Graham’s life and helped him to understand the state of Florida tremendously,” said former First Lady Adele Graham.

“They are one of the best ways to actually learn about the lives of people that you are going to represent,” said Bob Graham.

A Graham campaign theme is “North Florida values” and it has dubbed the campaign swing “Grilling with the Grahams.” The week of scheduled events will feature barbecues, roundtable discussions, work days and family, seven Grahams participated in the Tallahassee work day, as the campaign works the sprawling 14-county district.

The week of events is an opportunity to introduce, or reintroduce the Graham family to the district, something that the Southerland campaign noted.

“The fact that Gwen Graham feels the need for a 14-county  tour to introduce herself to voters three months before the election says a lot about her Pelosi playbook campaign,” said Luke Strickland, Southerland’s campaign manager.

“After four years of fighting for our North and Northwest Florida values in Congress, Steve Southerland needs no introduction. And that kind of partnership with the people is something money can’t buy,” said Strickland.

The food bank workday was number 13 for Gwen Graham.  She has another one scheduled next Thursday in Panama City, at the conclusion of her eight day campaign swing and a long way to go to catch her who has chalked up 409.