Former Florida Rep. Gwen Graham announced Tuesday her intention to run for governor of Florida in 2018. She’s a Democrat. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited and very likely to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year.
Graham is the daughter of the extremely popular former Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham. She served only one term in the House from 2015 to 2017 and didn’t run again due to limited options caused by redistricting.
Graham is not exactly a darling of the left, with votes in Congress in favour of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a more restrictive Syrian refugee policy, and less stringent Wall Street regulation. She is in general seen as a moderate, which is probably helpful in a state nearly split down the middle in terms of red and blue allegiances.
She would be Florida’s first female governor, if elected.
On the Republican side state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam filed campaign paperwork on Monday. If you’re looking for weirdness, there have been reports suggesting that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee might be interested in the Republican nomination although, as one Florida politics blogger put it, “it’s difficult to game out a path for victory,” for ol’ Mike.
Though very early, the polls that have been done show Democratic frontrunners, including Graham (who is getting the most attention at this point), in a more or less statistical tie with Putnam, and a very large undecided vote. Charlie Cook rates it as a Toss-up. And Governing magazine calls the race “Vulnerable,” by which they mean the current governing party, Rick Scott’s Republicans, could lose the 2018 race.
The folks at Governing also write this:
The first failure by the Democrats to win Florida in the presidential contest since 2004 has to put a damper on the party’s hopes of flipping the governorship — a seat they last won in 1994. Still, recent gubernatorial contests in the state have been narrowly divided, and Scott has had a somewhat polarizing tenure.
If Democrats can field a quality candidate, secure sufficient funding and keep turnout from dropping through the floor, the party should have a shot at ending its losing streak.
Others have declared and more are likely yet to come, but the show at this point is Graham versus Putnam.