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Both Sides Ramp Up Attacks in North Florida Congressional Race

August 12, 2014 - 6:00pm
Both sides launched new rounds of attacks in North Florida as one of the most competitive congressional elections in the nation continues to shape up.

Trumpeting her North Florida Way, Democrat Gwen Graham took aim at U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in a new Web video released on Wednesday. Graham, the daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., is insisting she is a political outsider despite working as a campaign aide to her father and to the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., and then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during the 2004 election cycle.

From Panama City to Tallahassee, North Florida residents have one message, Graham insisted this week. Were fed up with this messed up Congress and those like Congressman Steve Southerland who are putting themselves and their Washington politics over us.

The new video features highlights from the Grilling With the Grahams tour as the candidate and her father toured the district earlier this month. During the tour, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., endorsed Graham.

But Graham drew fire as the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) launched a television commercial on Tuesday taking aim at her. The ad attempts to link Graham to Beltway liberals including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Despite accepting money from Pelosis PAC and getting heavy support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Graham has refused to say if she will vote for the California congresswoman to be House speaker.

In the new ad, the NRCC looked to flip things around on Graham, mocking her claims to be an outsider.

Gwen Graham is trying to deceive voters into thinking she is focused on North Florida, Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said on Tuesday. In reality, Gwen has taken thousands of dollars from Nancy Pelosi and has promised to be complacent in the battle against bad policies like Obamacare. One thing is very clear Gwen Grahams liberal politics are not the North Florida way.

The Graham camp responded with an email to supporters on Tuesday, looking to fundraise off the ad and tying it to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

We just got word that Boehners launching a massive ad buy against Gwen," the Graham campaign emailed supporters on Tuesday. For a small grassroots campaign like ours, that could be terrible news.

By June 30, the end of the second quarter, Grahams small grassroots campaign had raised more than $2.35 million, more than Southerlands haul which was just less than $2 million. The DCCC recently wrapped up a 10-day series of attacks against Southerland, something which it has done against no other Republican incumbent.

Southerland released a TV ad of his own on Wednesday, offering a positive look at his record.

For too long, North and Northwest Floridians felt they werent being heard in Washington, said Southerland on Wednesday. Thats why I fight each day for the values we hold dear and then return home each weekend to hear from the people I represent. Its why my focus is always on empowering hardworking families by growing jobs, not government. Im not interested in going along to get along. North and Northwest Florida is home and will always be worth fighting for.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN.

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