Southerland is one of the House GOP's most vulnerable incumbents this November. (Abby Livingston/CQ Roll Call)
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — It took Republican Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis 16 hours to travel from western Wyoming to the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 26 to campaign for her embattled colleague, Rep. Steve Southerland II.
Like other women in her conference, she is spending this pre-election recess fanning out over the country to help House Republicans in competitive races, especially men struggling through what Democrats have deemed the GOP’s “War on Women.”
“I spent the entire day — a long day — traveling, and it means a lot to me to be here for Steve, because I want to serve with him,” Lummis said in a interview here recently week, surrounded by veterans at a small gathering before a Women for Southerland rally.
Southerland faces a fierce re-election fight against Democrat Gwen Graham, an attorney and Florida political scion, in the 2nd District, a region that includes Tallahassee and stretches to the Gulf of Mexico coastline.
Southerland, in particular, has struggled with female voters. Earlier this year, his supporters hosted a male-only fundraiser with an invitation that read, “tell the Misses not to wait up.” Southerland responded to news reports on the event by comparing the event to a lingerie shower.
That’s in part how, on Sept. 27, a handful of female Republican officeholders descended upon Panama City Beach. Besides Lummis, Rep. Martha Roby drove that morning from her home in Montgomery, Ala., with her young daughter to attend the rally. Former Arkansas first lady Janet Huckabee was also in attendance.