The Florida swamp mud is flying thick and fast in the Sunshine State House race between incumbent Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fl., and his Democratic challenger Gwen Graham, and the neck-and-neck battle has Republicans getting nervous enough to send in a heavy hitter to help out.
that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is heading south to throw his weight behind Southerland, who is in the middle of a tough battle against the daughter of Florida's popular former governor, senator and presidential candidate Bob Graham.
Southerland shouldn't be in the trouble he's facing in the strongly red district he represents, but Bob Graham's lasting popularity and a series of campaign blunders has given Graham a chance to pull up even in the race, and most polls now consider the battle a toss-up.
Southerland hosted a men-only fundraising event, even saying, "Tell the Mrs. not to wait up," which opened him to anti-women attacks from Graham, and Southerland responded by asking if Graham "had ever been to a lingerie shower. Ask her. And how many men were there?"
Southerland struck back with a video ad featuring testimonials from female war vets, like the one from Army Sgt. Kelly Stivers, a Desert Storm vet, who said "There are critical issues facing our country: border crisis; homeland security; health care. We face war on many fronts. For Gwen Graham to claim Steve Southerland has launched a war on women? It's false and it's sad."
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Republican PACS have stepped up funding for Southerland's campaign, with Koch-connected groups Freedom Partners Action Fund setting aside $394,000 and Americans for Prosperity earmarking an additional $634,000, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
that the House Majority PAC, a Democratic group, has pledged a $70,000 ad buy for Graham, hammering Southerland for supporting last year's government shutdown.
Southerland told Roll Call,
"The governor (Graham) served, I think, with distinction and served in the Senate three terms but has not been on the ballot since 1998. I have four daughters. None of the four of my daughters know who Bob Graham is."
That only served to set him up for a rapid riposte from Graham's mother Adele, who told Roll Call, "I find that amazing. 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?"
As for Scalise's upcoming visit, Matt McCullough, a Southerland spokesman, told Politico,
"We appreciate the support of colleagues who know Steve needs to remain in Congress fighting for jobs and patient choice in health care."
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