Northwest Florida congresswoman Gwen Graham says she won’t seek another term in Congress and is “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”
The Democrat from Tallahassee, and daughter of former governor Bob Graham, is expected to have a hard fight to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who will not seek reelection in 2018 because of term limits.
Republicans considering the 2018 race include Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose political action committee raised more than $4 million last year. According to federal campaign finance disclosures, Graham has about $2.1 million in her congressional campaign account, which she could transfer to her gubernatorial campaign.
“Floridians are hungry for new leadership,” Graham said in her video posted to YouTube Thursday. “I am so excited to tell you first I am seriously considering running for Governor in 2018. Public servants must focus on the job they’re elected to do. So I will spend the remainder of my term fully representing you in Congress. But I will not seek re-election while considering this next step in service.”
The daughter of a popular democratic governor, Graham has been considered a rising leader in the Democratic Party since she defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Southerland in the district in 2014.
If Graham decides to pursue a bid for governor, she will likely face a primary fight with one or more Democratic opponents. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has also been seriously considering a run in 2018.
There has not been a successful candidate for governor from the panhandle since Democrat Reubin Askew in 1970.