Democratic Congressional hopeful Gwen Graham sent a letter on Tuesday to her Republican opponent calling for a series of face-to-face debates over issues important to voters in Florida’s Second Congressional District.
The Tallahassee Democrat, daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, is running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland for the region covering Tallahassee through Panama City and the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle.
Graham has already agreed to two debates, and the purpose of the letter was to compel Southerland to join her in more forums throughout the increasingly swing district. CD 2 comprises the heavily Democratic City of Tallahassee as well rural districts like Southerland’s home base, highly conservative Bay County.
In a hand-delivered letter, sent to Southerland’s Panama City campaign headquarters, Graham urged the Republican to participate in additional discussions, so North Florida residents can “learn directly from both candidates about the differences in their values, records, and beliefs.”
“There’s a clear contrast in this race between Congressman Southerland’s Washington politics and the North Florida approach of compromise and problem-solving I’m running on — and these debates will offer residents the chance to hear directly from us,”Graham said. “I’ve spoken to thousands of folks across our community, and they are hungry for an open conversation about how we fix the dysfunctional politics being practiced by D.C. politicians in both parties, and start getting Congress re-focused on issues that matter to us here in North Florida.”
Observers expect the CD 2 race to be one of the most competitive national-marquee races in the upcoming midterm cycle, one that will be flush with millions of dollars from independent groups, much of it going to support Southerland’s re-election effort.
The text of Gwen Graham’s letter:
Southerland for Congress
P.O. Box 1692
Lynn Haven, FL 32444
Dear Representative Southerland,
When I entered this race over a year ago, it was in the hope of having a conversation with the voters of the Second Congressional District about where our country stands today and what Congress can do to make their lives better. I’ve spoken to thousands of citizens across North Florida and they are excited about this race and the implications it has for our country.
North Florida families are concerned about their jobs, their children’s future, and America’s standing in the world. They want to make an informed decision in this election, so in honor of their interest in this race, I say we give them what they want.
I propose we engage in a series of formal debates on a range of issues. We can work out the details of where, when, and what we hope to discuss, but for now I believe an agreement that we will work together to give voters the chance to hear our views on the issues is in the best interest of this district.
My goal is to bring a new kind of approach to Washington that includes more cooperation and problem-solving. Let’s show the voters that we care about the issues that matter to them this election. I hope you will join me in this conversation, and on behalf of the residents of our district, I eagerly await your reply.
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 2