Graham Will Not Seek Re-election to Senate

Posted November 3, 2003 at 11:08am

Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D), who has never lost an election in a political career that spans five decades, announced today that he will not seek re-election in 2004.

Graham made his announcement while conducting one of his well-known “workdays,” a trademark campaign device used by the former two-term governor since 1974.

“I do not say this because I feel that all of my goals have been accomplished,” Graham said, as he logged his 391st workday, this time at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, trying out a different job.

Graham entered the Democratic presidential contest earlier this year, but his campaign never took off. After ending his bid Oct. 6, Graham contemplated his future and ultimately decided that he wanted to do other things.

“Perhaps it is the end of the beginning,” Graham said, vowing to add other chapters to his life’s work.

In his retirement, Graham, who turns 67 on Sunday, said he hopes to write and possibly create an institution that would work toward preparing the next generation of public servants.

Senate Democrats had lobbied hard in an attempt to persuade Graham, who remains one of the state’s most beloved politicians, to run for another term.

His decision not to seek a fourth term further complicates the 2004 election map for Democrats, who are now defending four open seats in the South.

Although the Sunshine State seat is not currently viewed as difficult to hold as open seats in Georgia and South Carolina, the party will have to devote precious resources to keeping the seat and state will see a competitive race to succeed Graham.

Democrats expected to formally enter the Senate race immediately following Graham’s announcement are former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor, Rep. Peter Deutsch and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. Rep. Alcee Hastings is also considering a bid.

Republicans in the race include state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, legal activist Larry Klayman, former Rep. Bill McCollum and state Sen. Daniel Webster, a former state House speaker.