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Gwen Graham hauls in $525,000+ in first quarter fundraising

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Newly minted U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is set to be a major target of the National Republican Congressional Committee in her bid for re-election to Florida’s notoriously difficult-to-hold District 2, but according to figures released on Monday, she won’t be outgunned by the GOP House money machine: She raised more than half a million in her first three months in Congress.

A good deal of that money came from sources outside traditional Democratic sources like trial lawyers and teachers, which are crucial for Graham’s chances in the sprawling, semi-rural district.

“One day at a time, one vote a time, one hug at a time we’re bringing the North Florida way to Congress,” Graham said in a statement. “I promised to work with both sides of the aisle to find real solutions to the problems we face – and following through on that promise has excited people across our district.”

Graham defeated Tea Party standard bearer Steve Southerland to take his seat in Congress in what was a lonely bright spot for Florida Democrats last November.

Key to her winning strategy were appearances at nearly every political powwow across the district, a robust field program — and plenty of campaign cash.

The NRCC has accorded Graham her own special honorific in its attempt to oust her, the “Brad Schneider One and Done Award,” a reference to the left-of-center Illionis congressman who was elected in 2012 and defeated last year.

But unlike Schneider, Graham first took office in a difficult mid-term year for Democrats and faces fewer electoral headwinds going into a more favorable presidential cycle in 2016.

“Representing North Florida in Congress is the honor of a lifetime,” Graham concluded. “Meeting people across our district, from Tallahassee to Panama City, in Wassau or Marianna – I’m listening to your concerns and taking them to Washington.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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