Battle over campaign spots heats up between Graham and Gillum

by | May 10, 2018

The Democratic race for governor is heating up on the airwaves as the candidates and groups supporting them continue to launch new ad campaigns.

The latest (see below), a digital spot, comes from former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham called “Take Care” in which she reflects on her private life and her public service.

But, it’ another ad that has Graham firing back at one of her opponents, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Earlier this week, a political committee called The Collective, which supports African-American candidates, launched a nearly $800,000 ad campaign in the West Palm Beach television market and on cable networks across the state.

The ad attacks Graham for being a fake progressive candidate who voted against President Barack Obama on a number of occasions when she was in Congress, a claim Gillum has repeatedly used in his campaign.

Although the ad is supposed to be in support of Gillum, it clearly attacks Graham’s record in Congress, which Graham says has been distorted. During her years in the U.S. House, Graham represented a Republican-leaning district that includes Tallahassee and large rural areas surrounding the capital.

“Gwen Graham says she is the progressive candidate for governor but while in Congress she voted against President Obama 52 percent of the time,” the narrator on the ad says.

In a written statement to Politico, The Collective made it clear it is targeting Graham.

“There are candidates in this race who are claiming to be progressive when their record shows the opposite. We feel it’s important to expose these inaccuracies and allow Florida voters the ability to learn more about Andrew, who as the son of a bus driver and a construction worker, has the credentials, experience and record as a progressive [that] Floridians deserve,” the group said in a written statement.

Thursday morning, Graham’s campaign sent out a news release critical of Gillum and The Collective for airing the spot.

“I am disgusted that Andrew Gillum would allow a secret-money group to run a false attack against a fellow Democrat,” Graham said.

The release included remarks from several of her supporters in the Legislature who also criticized Gillum for allowing the spot to air.

“Andrew Gillum is clearly coordinating this negative, false attack against Gwen Graham and he must demand it is taken off the air immediately. Florida voters deserve better than this. There is no place for secret money PACs interfering in our elections,” Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, said.

The Gillum campaign followed up with a written statement defending the claims in the ad.

“In this race no candidate will be able to run from their voting record, but if we had a choice in this ad, we’d want Mayor Gillum’s progressive record to be the focus,” said Geoff Burgan, communications director for the Gillum campaign. “The Graham campaign seems to be uncomfortable with her own voting record.”

Meanwhile, Graham’s new digital video focuses on her role as a woman and a mother and her decision to run for public office. Her campaign says the spot is part of a “significant buy” across various digital platforms.


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