Graham, and family, steer ‘North Florida Way’

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

The race is about “restoring people’s confidence in the national government,” he told the audience that filled the Battery Park community center. “The whole system has become almost dysfunctional, full of people who are there in order to scream and yell about their ideology.”

In an interview following the lunch, Bob Graham addressed both the matter of his daughter “riding on his coattails,” so to speak, as well as the political changes that have swept over the state since he retired from the Senate in Jan. 2005.

“I am very proud of my daughter,” he said, noting that she did not discuss her plans with him prior to embarking on her candidacy. “She’s running as Gwen Graham, on her own life experience, and what she can bring to the position.”

During his active years in politics (he continues to remain active, co-chairing theNational Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, among several high-profile positions), “Florida was a solidly Democratic state,” he said. “The population of Florida has changed. It’s not as Southern as it used to be. People have brought down their political experiences (from other states).”

He said such demographic changes have been significant among older voters, many of whom have retired here, and then deftly steered the discussion into a criticism of the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, which he said puts these systems “under assault” from the ups-and-downs of Wall Street.

In his introduction of Bob Graham, Johnson brought home the local touch to a man he said “has played a role in nearly every major public policy issue in modern Florida's history.”

The mayor recalled how as governor, Graham’s administration “was here for the people of Franklin County during the aftermath of the 1985 Hurricanes Elena and Kate that ravished Florida's Gulf Coast during Labor Day weekend and just days before the Thanksgiving Day holiday, respectively.

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