Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said he isn't buying the hype around his opponent, attorney Gwen Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham, a former senator and governor.
"The Grahams aren’t from Northwest Florida," Southerland said in a recent sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call. "They’re a South Florida family."
"We respect the Graham name," the two-term Republican continued. "We respect greatly the governor’s service and the senator’s service, but unfortunately, he’s not on the ballot."
National Democrats have touted Graham as one of their best recruits this cycle, saying she'll be able to close the deal with voters in Florida's 2nd District, thanks in part to her father's legacy. Southerland's re-election is quickly becoming one of the most competitive House races in the country, and it's ratedTossup/Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Democrats also boast Graham is better equipped than their 2012 nominee, Al Lawson Jr. Southerland disagreed. "I wouldn’t say she’s a better candidate," Southerland said. "Look, nobody had better name recognition in our district than Al Lawson ... He served 28 years, again, was Senate minority leader from the district, played ball in Tallahassee — a very athletic town, got the basketball coliseum named after him."