Op-Ed

Lawmaker: Super PAC misleads voters: Florida gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is a progressive Democrat

Tallahassee Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who is running for Florida governor is fighting back against claims by a super PAC which is funding her opponent in the Democratic primary.
Tallahassee Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who is running for Florida governor is fighting back against claims by a super PAC which is funding her opponent in the Democratic primary. Getty Images

Secret money in campaigns. Super PACs running false ads. Misleading voters.

These are the tactics we have grown used to Republicans using, but, this year, it isn’t conservatives going negative against a progressive Democrat in Florida’s gubernatorial election — it’s Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee.

Gillum’s negative campaign is being funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a secret money organization that doesn’t disclose its donors.

He’s embracing and supporting an out-of-state super PAC that is spending almost $1 million to attack his Democratic opponent Gwen Graham.

And he’s refused to stand against a negative attack ad being run on his behalf — even after Politifact found the ad is misleading voters by cherry picking statistics.

Democrats expect a thorough and competitive primary that highlights the records and proposals of each of our candidates.

I don’t think we’ll agree with any candidate’s record 100 percent of the time — I know many progressives who were upset by Gillum’s vote for a coal power plant and his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — but there is nothing wrong with examining your opponent's’ votes or stance on the issues.

However, we will not stand by and watch as Democrats use secret money, out-of-state Super PACs and sexist slurs to attack fellow Democrats.

Thankfully, we have a progressive alternative in this election who is running a positive campaign: Gwen Graham.

In Congress, she stood with President Obama and voted eight times to protect the Affordable Care Act, to preserve his Clean Power Plan and to defend the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.

She rallied the Florida delegation to save the Apalachicola Bay, supported Everglades restoration, and fought alongside Senator Bill Nelson to ban oil drilling off our beaches.

Graham has the most extensive record on gun safety. She joined Congressman John Lewis in the House sit-in to demand gun safety, voted to regulate armor-piercing bullets and co-sponsored legislation to ban high-capacity magazines.

Despite representing one of the most conservative districts in the state, she showed courage standing up for our progressive values and fighting to protect every Floridian’s rights — earning 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign.

She’s also the only candidate in the race who has voted to end Citizens United, the conservative Supreme Court decision that created Super PACs — like the one Gillum now supports.

Building off a strong progressive record, Graham is running for governor to restore our promise to public schools, to protect Florida’s environment and to build an economy that works for everyone — and she has released the most detailed proposals to accomplish those goals.

Gwen has a plan to combat climate change and protect Florida from rising sea levels. She has pledged to expand Medicaid and create a Florida public healthcare option. And she was the first candidate to release a detailed gun safety plan and call for the banning of assault weapons.

If you want to know what type of Democrat Gwen really is, ignore the false super PAC ads and look at her record.

She is a progressive who stood up for our shared values when it was hard — not just in stump speeches, but in actions — and I’m proud to support her for governor.

Barbara Watson (D) is a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing Miami Gardens.

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