Let’s face it. Gwen Graham ran her entire congressional campaign, from start to finish, on the coattail of her father, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham.
She is repeating that playbook for her gubernatorial campaign.
Without the name “Bob Graham,” Gwen Graham wouldn’t be that interesting.
Hell, WITH the name Bob Graham, Gwen Graham isn’t that interesting.
After an entire campaign of shoving the fact that she is the daughter of Bob Graham down our throats, to the point that people have asked why HE isn’t running instead of HER, someone has taken her up on her invitation to talk about Bob Graham.
Jeff Greene, the billionaire gubernatorial candidate on the Democratic side, has taken Gwen and her daddy to task, and Gwen doesn’t like it.
I guess she’s the only one who should talk about her daddy incessantly.
Greene talks about the megamall Graham’s family is a part of building, a development that threatens big problems for that area in Miami Dade.
What Jeff Greene did NOT talk about, however, is all the death warrants signed by Bob Graham when he was governor.
From a 2003 Slate.com article, "The Worst of Bob Graham":
"Charge: According to Among the Lowest of the Dead, a 1995 book by David von Drehle of the Washington Post, Graham used executions to boost his popularity while governor of Florida. The book says Graham was viewed as 'weak and indecisive' when he came into office, and he used the death penalty 'to show some spine, flex some muscle' in a state where 90 percent of the population approved of it. Graham signed more death warrants in 1982, the year he was up for re-election, than he did in his first three years in office combined. From 1982 on, he never exercised his power of clemency. The pace accelerated again in 1986 when Graham ran for the U.S. Senate. Ray Marky, a Florida assistant attorney general responsible for death penalty cases, told von Drehle that 'nine months of Bob Graham running for senator nearly killed me.' In 2003, the Washington Post recalled, 'The death penalty was by far the hottest issue in Florida then, and nicknames like 'Bloody Bob' and 'Governor Death' only enhanced Graham's standing.' Tom Fiedler, a Miami Herald editor, told the Post, 'Graham made a deal with the devil on the death penalty. He figured, whatever good he wanted to achieve in politics would be lost if he didn't give the people what they wanted.'"
Well, in the case of Joseph Green Brown (also known as "Shabaka"), the people and Bob Graham wanted the death penalty, but the reality was that Mr. Green was an innocent man:
“In 1974, a Hillsborough County jury convicted him of raping and murdering Earlene Treva Barksdale, a clothing store owner and wife of a prominent Tampa lawyer. The case hinged on Ronald Floyd, a man who held a grudge against Shabaka because Shabaka once turned him in for a robbery. The jury also got to see a purported smoking gun -- a .38-caliber handgun that prosecutor Robert Bonanno said was the murder weapon.
"An FBI ballistics expert said the handgun could not possibly have fired the fatal bullet -- a witness the jury never heard from -- and several months later, Floyd admitted that he lied.
"Florida courts granted no relief, however, and in the fall of 1983, Gov. Bob Graham signed a death warrant. Shabaka’s mother suffered a stroke.
"Death watch cells are larger but more narrow than cells on death row, and guards are positioned outside to hand the condemned their belongings, turn on their TVs and make sure they don’t commit suicide. Shabaka says he felt like a 'walled animal.'
"He was within 15 hours of death when a federal judge in Tampa issued a stay. Two and a half years later, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling the prosecution knowingly allowed false testimony from the states’s star witness. One year later, Shabaka was released after the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office decided not to retry him.”
One has to wonder what spending so many years on death row for a crime you didn’t commit does to a person. Apparently nothing good.
Joseph Green Brown was convicted in 2013 of killing his wife, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Was he a killer before being falsely imprisoned and sentenced to death? No.
After being treated as such, falsely, he became what Florida’s criminal justice system, courts, and Bob Graham made him out to be.
We already know the criminal justice system is ripe with systemic racism. Add to that, a governor who wants to show how tough he, or SHE, is by signing death warrants.
Yes, Gwen Graham is her father’s daughter.
It’s one thing to sign death warrants in the course of duties as governor. It’s something entirely different to do it for political gain.
Leslie Wimes, a Sunshine State News columnist, is founder and president of Women on the Move and the Democratic African American Women Caucus, www.daawc.com. Follow Leslie on Twitter: @womenonthemove1