Graham, and family, steer ‘North Florida Way’

Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham and father Bob Graham hug after he introduced her to the Apalachicola audience.

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 09:20 PM.

Gwen Graham’s campaign to represent the 2nd Congressional District in Washington came floating quietly down the Apalachicola River Friday morning.

But by the time Nov. 4 rolls around, from all indications - including the enthusiastic reception the Democratic hopeful received in Battery Park at a barbecue lunch – it should be a rollicking ride down the rapids for voters in Franklin County and the rest of this sprawling North Florida district.

Part of an early August electioneering swing billed as “Grilling with the Grahams,” the day began with a tranquil gathering of the extended family at Hickory Landing, just south of Sumatra, where Gwen, two of her three sisters, their children and the grandparents, joined in a morning paddle around Owl Creek.

What made it more interesting than what might be the case with less prominent families is that at the helm of the canoe that Gwen Graham steered was her father, Bob Graham, a popular two-term Florida governor and three-term U.S. senator, who looked pretty fit at age 77.

Graham’s wife, former Florida First Lady Adele, was the only family member not to opt to go paddling, instead lending enthusiastic moral support by sharing a cheer from her youth at Miami Edison High School, which she modified for the occasion.

By taking paddle in hand, Gwen Graham and her entourage anchored her environmental message in a key geographic aspect of North Florida life. It was by no means her first visit here – she’s been currying favor by talking with area folks on several occasions last year, including the 2013 Florida Seafood Festival.

It was, however, a chance to start churning electioneering water in a race that will pit a first-time political candidate, and first time female hopeful for the once solidly Democratic district, against Steve Southerland, a two-term Republican incumbent, first elected in 2010 in a Tea Party surge that helped capture the House of Representatives for the GOP.

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