FL-02: Republican Steve Southerland vs. Democrat Gwen Graham

The District
Florida’s Second Congressional District includes two population centers – the state capital, Tallahassee, and Panama City – although nearly a third of district’s residents live in rural communities. Twenty-five percent of the district’s population is African American, and another 5 percent is Hispanic. Notably, the district is home to two major centers of higher education: Florida State University and Florida A&M University. Although President Obama lost the district in both 2008 and 2012 with roughly 47% of the vote in each contest, it is a district that is trending ever so slightly Democratic and that Democratic gubernatorial and Senate candidates have carried in the past. Until 2010, it was represented by Democrat Allen Boyd. 

The Race
Congressman Steve Southerland is completely out of touch with the challenges facing Florida families and seniors. Southerland is a millionaire who complained that his $174,000 Congressional salary is “not so much.” Yet when faced with the risk of a government shutdown, Southerland voted to protect that taxpayer-funded salary instead of the pay of American service members. And one of Southerland’s very first votes in office was to allow Members of Congress to keep their taxpayer-funded health care after leaving office! But when it comes to the people he is supposed to represent, he voted to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and voted to privatize Social Security.

Southerland even voted for a budget that would pay for tax cuts for millionaires by eliminating Medicare’s guaranteed budget and turning the program into a voucher, costing seniors an average of six thousand dollars per year. 

Southerland is out of touch when it comes to education and jobs, too. He wanted to eliminate the Department of Education and he voted to cut Pell Grants for 1.4 million students, making it even harder for middle class families to send their kids to college. And even though more than 130,000 Florida families have lost their jobs due to unfair trade deals, he’s voted to protect tax breaks and government contracts for companies that send jobs overseas.

Democratic candidate Gwen Graham understands the Panhandle, having lived in Tallahassee ever since her father Bob Graham was elected Governor in 1978, and her background is diverse, having worked in the private sector but also as a stay-at-home mom when her children were younger. As a former PTA president and chair of the School Advisory Council, Graham knows how critical a good education is in today’s job market, and her time working for the school superintendent on contract disputes earned her a reputation as a problem-solver and consensus-builder. Graham will make economic growth and job creation here in northern Florida her top priority, and she will bring a moderate approach to Washington, working with both Republicans and Democrats to strengthen schools, protect Medicare, and make government more efficient by cutting wasteful spending and unnecessary regulations.



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