Chris King

Graham grabs endorsement of progressive ‘trailblazer’ Tammy Duckworth

30789731_6102639375688_7819687006950129664_nWe don’t usually highlight endorsements, but this one caught our attention because, after all, the male-dominated U.S. Senate changed its rules to allow U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth to bring her new baby, Maile, onto the Senate floor. (She got her a jacket so the newborn could conform with Senate protocol.)

baby clothes

Plus Duckworth, a wounded war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, is a rock star among progressive Democrats, so her endorsement of former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, for what it’s worth, could be considered a coup in a heated Democratic gubernatorial primary. Especially if the Illinois senator campaigns for Graham in Florida.

Graham’s announcement of the endorsement carries on with an all-about-Trump theme (remember her first digital ad?), with both women bashing the president.

“No one is better equipped to defend Florida against Donald Trump and his harmful policies than Gwen Graham,” Duckworth said in the press release. “She will take on Trump to defend the Affordable Care Act and expand healthcare for Florida families. Gwen will protect Florida’s waters from Trump’s dangerous oil drilling plans. And she will put people — not special interests — first by passing an increased minimum wage.”

Graham, who last year nailed the endorsement of  New York U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and who served with Duckworth during Graham’s brief stint in Congress, called the Illinois senator “one of the toughest women I know” who “sets an incredible example for all Americans.”

“As governor, I will fight with her to take on Donald Trump and fight to expand healthcare, protect our environment, and defend Floridians from his bullyish attacks,” Graham said in the release.

The endorsement of the lefty Duckworth could give Graham — who’s been criticized by progressives for being too conservative — a nudge in a heated primary. Both Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who has has captured support from some progressives, and Orlando entrepreneur Chris King, bashed Graham for her congressional voting record during last week’s debate, which is certain to be an issue throughout the coming months in the match-up — also featuring former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — to replace outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

That’s probably why this morning’s announcement includes Duckworth bragging on Graham’s tenure in the House.

“Serving together in Congress, I saw Gwen fight for our shared progressive values. When Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare, Gwen voted to save it. She defended a woman’s right to choose and sponsored legislation to improve healthcare for mothers and babies. And after the devastating shooting at Pulse, Gwen took on Paul Ryan to demand a vote on common sense gun safety legislation,” she says in the release.

Here’s the full announcement:

On the heels of releasing her first digital ad slamming President Donald Trump, Gwen Graham is announcing support from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a progressive trailblazer leading the charge against Trump in Congress.

“No one is better equipped to defend Florida against Donald Trump and his harmful policies than Gwen Graham,” Duckworth said. “She will take on Trump to defend the Affordable Care Act and expand healthcare for Florida families. Gwen will protect Florida’s waters from Trump’s dangerous oil drilling plans. And she will put people — not special interests — first by passing an increased minimum wage.”

“Serving together in Congress, I saw Gwen fight for our shared progressive values. When Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare, Gwen voted to save it. She defended a woman’s right to choose and sponsored legislation to improve healthcare for mothers and babies. And after the devastating shooting at Pulse, Gwen took on Paul Ryan to demand a vote on common sense gun safety legislation”

Duckworth, a Purple Heart recipient, and Graham served together in Congress. Together, they fought for progressive values, to defend women and to support our country’s veterans.

“Senator Duckworth is one of the toughest women I know. She sets an incredible example for all Americans, and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Graham said. “As governor, I will fight with her to take on Donald Trump and fight to expand healthcare, protect our environment, and defend Floridians from his bullyish attacks.”

Gillum releases digital ad, “Opportunity”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor, released a five-figure digital ad, “Opportunity,” according to Gillum’s campaign.

“Were it not for a good public education, caring and loving parents, a grandmother who prayed for me and quite frankly people who believed in me enough to say that I could, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” Gillum says in the 30-second spot. “And I plan to work as hard as I can every day, if given the opportunity, to make sure that every child has that same opportunity.”

Gillum’s facing off against former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Orlando entrepreneur Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who’s dumped upwards of $6 million on television ads thus far.

This from a press release issued by Gillum’s campaign spokesman, Geoff Burgan:

“Andrew is the only candidate in this race who truly understands what everyday Floridians need: a strong public education, a good-paying job, and a state that values its everyday people over its well-heeled and well-connected. “Opportunity” showcases Andrew’s compelling personal story and highlights the areas that a Governor Gillum will pursue.”

 

Oops. Debates can’t help, but they can kill

Florida’s top Democratic candidates for governor — Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King — spent an hour yesterday trying to burnish their creds as the best man or woman to succeed outgoing GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

After being repeatedly attacked by her opponents, former Congresswoman Graham probably scored the best line of the debate.

“I seem to be the one,” said Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham, who served as both U.S. senator and Florida governor. “It’s Gwen and the men.”

Graham’s response drew a quick rebuke from Gillum: “This isn’t just about the men against the women. Records do matter.”

There were a few gaffes, but nothing tat would rise to the level of candidacy-killing flubs by statewide and presidential wannabes in the past.

And that’s probably a good thing for the four Democratic contenders, according to Florida Atlantic University political science professor Kevin Wagner.

“Especially early on, you can’t win an election on a debate. It’s very rare you have a moment in a debate that puts you over the top. But you can make a mistake in a debate that might cost you,” Wagner, who’s made a study of debates, told Truth or Dara this morning. “You don’t win elections in debates but you do lose them from time to time.”

Wagner reminded us of a blunder by Democrat Bill McBride during a debate against incumbent Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.

McBride was unable to say how he would pay for enhancements to public education, prompting Bush to label his foe as a “tax and spend” Democrat.

“It made him (McBride) look like he didn’t think through budget matters or how the budget works, and that really hurt him,” Wagner said, pointing out that McBride was close to Bush in the polls until the debate.

“Not many people watch the debates, but it shows you that sometimes what happens in debates starts to percolate in conversations that people have,” the political science professor said.

The demise of McBride due to the debate prompted us to revisit former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s unforgettable “oops” moment, when he forgot one of the three federal agencies he said he wanted to do away with during a 2011 debate between the Republican presidential candidates.

“I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the — What’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry, who’s now the nation’s energy czar, said.

After much prompting, Perry wound up with: “The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

Also on the presidential level, Wagner noted that former Vice President Dan Quayle was defined by one fatal line during a debate.

Dan Quayle likened himself to Jack Kennedy, aka former President John Kennedy, drawing this rebuke from vice-presidential contender Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.

“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” Bentsen said.  That last memorable line may have eclipsed Bentsen’s political legacy but has stuck with Quayle ever since.

In general, early debates largely serve as a helpful dress rehearsal for candidates to hone their skills before voters really start to tune into the upcoming elections.

But, in a modern age where every breath is documented, stored and shared, even the slightest swiff is saved for posterity, and potentially could be come back to haunt the candidates.

“In some cases, like Dan Quayle, it will live with you for the rest of your career,” Wagner said.

Poll: Voters meh on Fla guv race

Agriculture Commish Adam Putnam and Fox News darling Congressman Ron DeSantis are neck-and-neck, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has a slight edge over former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.

“Right now, the only things that are certain about Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial primaries are that the outcomes are far from certain, a lot of money is going to be poured into these two very competitive races and the voters are not fully tuned in,” pollster Brad Coker said in a press release announcing the poll results.

On the Democratic side in the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who’s term-limited out of office this year, Graham captured 20 percent of the vote, while 17 percent of Dems said they’re backing Levine. Ten percent of likely Democratic voters support Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and 4 percent are behind Chris King.  And nearly half of likely Dem voters — a whopping 49 percent — are undecided.

On the GOP side, 43 percent of likely Republican voters haven’t yet made up their minds, the poll found. Statewide, 27 percent of GOP voters back Putnam, while 23 percent are for DeSantis. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who hasn’t announced if he’s running yet, captured support from 7 percent of those polls.

The Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy survey of 500 likely Democratic voters and 500 likely Republican voters was conducted from Jan. 29 through Feb. 1. The margin of error was +/- 4.5 percent.

The current results largely reflect name recognition and none of the candidates appear to be hampered by high negative ratings from their party voters.

Here’s more from Coker:

It is interesting to note that both front-runners have leads that are smaller than their recognition advantages. Graham, the daughter of former Governor & Senator Bob Graham, has an 8-point name recognition margin over Levine, but just a 3-point lead.

Putnam, the only candidate to have run statewide, has a name recognition advantage of 7-points over DeSantis, but only a 4-point lead. Graham’s total recognition of 65% among Democrats is likely lower than many insiders would expect, but her father’s name has not appeared on the state ballot in 20 years. Putnam has only 63% recognition among GOP voters, as his position in the state cabinet is low profile.

Traditional expectations in primary elections based on insider baseball no longer apply in a growing and ever-changing state. As both parties have polarized, establishment backing is no longer a great advantage.

Chris King talks voting at universities

ChrisKing_PressImage-683x1024Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor, wants to make it easier for Floridians to register to vote and to cast their ballots.

That was his message as King visited three state university campuses today, kicking off the campus appearances in Tallahassee at Florida State University, dropping by the University of Florida before winding up at the University of North Florida.

In a press release, King said his “Every Florida Voter” plan is part of his overall effort to make government “work for ordinary people, not special interests and those in power.”

“The first step to restore our democracy is to put that power back in the hands of the people of Florida,” King said, an attorney who graduated from Harvard University and attended law school at UF.

Among his proposals, King wants to expand the early voting period, automatically register voters and allow Election Day registration, instead of the current system of closing registration books roughly a month before each election.

King also said he supports providing a system for the restoration of voting rights for an estimated 1.6 million non-violent felons who have served their time but are denied the right to vote.

“But expanding voter registration and increasing access to the polls are not enough to increase voter participation,” King said. “Past candidates and elected officials from both parties have failed to give Floridians a reason to get out and vote.

“This campaign will be different. It will be unafraid of fighting for a new fair and Florida-focused economy that lifts up all Floridians and championing fresh ideas to give people a reason to stand and be counted,” he said.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Tear down that monument!

Chris King, a Democrat who’s running for governor, left no doubt where he stands on the issue of Confederate monuments on public property.

King, a Winter Park businessman, wants them all gone.

“These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people,” King said in a statement. “And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.”

King issued the statement after a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters following a “Unite the Right” rally.

There’s a Confederate monument outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee, erected “to rescue from oblivion and perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War of 1861-1865,” according to the inscription.
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A number of Florida cities, including Jacksonville, are now grappling with what to do with the Confederate statues. Workers in Gainesville began tearing down a monument Monday outside the Alachua County Courthouse.

That’s the same city where white nationalist Richard Spencer, who participated in the Charlottesville event, may speak at the University of Florida next month.

Here’s King’s full statement:

“It’s time for the orderly removal all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people. And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case. Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy. In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.