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Ex-First Lady of Florida Fires Back at Congressman

It's hard being the parents of a political candidate. Former Sen. Bob Graham and his wife Adele Graham in 2004. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — Former Florida First Lady Adele Graham is not happy with her daughter's political rival, Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II.  

Graham and her husband, ex-Sen. Bob Graham, have been a pervasive presence on the campaign trail in support of Democratic attorney Gwen Graham's bid to unseat Southerland in his 2nd District in the Florida panhandle.  

Southerland has downplayed the efficacy of his rival's family brand.  

“The governor served, I think, with distinction and served in the Senate three terms but has not been on the ballot since 1998,” Southerland told CQ Roll Call in July . “I have four daughters, none of the four of my daughters know who Bob Graham is.”  

Adele Graham repeated those comments, unprompted, in her first interview of the entire 2014 campaign.  

"One of the comments Mr. Southerland made about Bob Graham — he doesn't know why there's such a concern about him campaigning with Gwen because he has four daughters and none of them even know who Bob Graham is and I find that amazing," she told CQ Roll Call here over the weekend.  

"To say you have lived in the state where you have a governor and a United States senator for 18 years and you can brag on the fact that your daughters have no idea?" the former first lady said.  

Bob and Adele Graham recently attended a 2nd District debate.  

"I was hoping [Southerland's daughters] might come to the debate in Tallahassee, so they could meet Bob Graham," she said.  

Southerland spokesman Matt McCullough responded with a statement.  

"Steve's got great respect for Gov. Graham's service, and certainly appreciates the role that family has played in getting both candidates where they are today," McCullough said. "But this race is about the future of North and Northwest Florida, and on that point the differences are clear."  

   

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