Gwen Graham close to announcing plans
Former CongresswomanGwen Graham, who has been exploring a candidacy for governor for much of the last year, indicated Thursday she’s close to formally announcing her plans.
“Iamvery excited about what the future holds. And there will be a wonderful announcement soon,” she said in a brief interview before speaking at an American Cancer Society event in Fort Lauderdale. “I just hope that people appreciate the magnitude of the undertaking it is to organize a gubernatorial campaign. And that’swherewe are right now. We’re in the planning stages. And soon the planning will end and I’m looking forward to a wonderful future.”
She declined to define soon, except to say that it “isn’t tomorrow” and it “will not be two more months.”
Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis went even farther when he introduced her later at the kickoff luncheon to generate enthusiasm for the cancer society’s 26th annual “jail & bail” fundraiser, during which people are subject to fake arrests and mock trials.
Ortis said the audience of about 100 was about to “hear fromthe next governor of the state of Florida.” When Graham got to the mic, she didn’t say anything to counter Ortis’s pronouncement.
Two candidates have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination for governor, which won’t be decided until the August 2018 primary. Running are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King. MiamiBeachMayor Philip Levine and Central Florida trial lawyer are considering candidacies. And Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said hewon’t run.
A Graham candidacy is widely expected. She defeated two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland in 2014, one of only two Republicans in the country unseated in whatwas anextraordinarily bad year for Democrats. She opted against seeking re-election last year because a court-ordered mid-decade redistricting made winning close to impossible.
The daughter of Bob Graham, the former U.S. senator and former Florida governor, has one of the most venerable names in Florida politics.
Graham has been traveling the state, meeting with Democratic activists and potential supporters. Even though she’s not an official candidate, she’s doing the same kinds of things candidatesmust do. On Thursday, for example, she was approached by Daniel Sohn, who announced on Wednesday he’s running for state agriculture commissioner. He introduced Graham to his puppy, a 2-month old German shepherd-peekapoo mix that he renamed “GG” two weeks ago after Graham. She dutifully held the dog and posed for pictures with Sohn.
Her gubernatorial planning has been slowed by the subject she discussed at the Cancer Society event: Husband Steve Hurm’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Graham, who had a grandmother and cousin die of cancer, said the subject has “become incredibly personal for me.”
Her husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer last year. After treatment, she said the family learned recently that he’s in remission.
Gwen Graham spoke Thursday at an American Cancer Society event in Fort Lauderdale.