The Florida Police Benevolent Association Friday endorsed Democratic candidate for the 2 nd District Congressional seat. The president and executive director of the 25,000 member association said Gwen Graham’s experience as a labor negotiator with the Leon County School District will help in breaking the gridlock in Washington.
“We look to Gwen as someone who will reach across the aisle and get Congress working again,” said Steven Slade, President of the Big Bend Chapter of the PBA.
Incumbent Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City is seeking his third term. Elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 he was re-elected in 2012 with 52 percent of the vote. The Washington Post calls the current Congress the least productive in history.
“Congress is not working right now; people are being elected to Congress to make Congress not work,” said Matt Puckett, the PBA executive director.
The funding that comes from Congress directly affects the citizens of this state and we’ve got to have somebody who will sit down and negotiate, she did that by trade, she has that skill set and we’re impressed with that,” said Puckett.
Graham has criticized Southerland for his role in last year’s shutdown of the federal government and for being part of a “small minority” in Congress that refuses to engage in discussions to find solutions. The Washington Post ranks the current Congress as the least productive ever.
The Tallahassee Police Department along with the departments at Florida A&M and Florida State universities are represented by the PBA. The group’s endorsement came after Graham completed a ride along with the FAMU police department.
Graham pledged to work to restore spending cuts to community policing and other law enforcement programs if elected.
“One of the big concerns that I see is that we are not providing the resources that the police desperately need here in north Florida, the last budget passed by the House had a $5 trillion cut in non-defense spending and it is those types of expenditures that allows you to do the job that you want to do that has been cut and need to be restored,” said Graham.
The Democrats see the 2 nd Congressional District as their best chance at flipping a Florida seat. Graham has raised more money than Southerland and the Cook Political Report recently moved the race from the Republican column to “toss up.”