Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Democrats Avoid Primary for Southerland Seat in Florida

Florida Democrat Al Lawson will not run for Congress in 2014, clearing the way for attorney Gwen Graham to cruise to the party’s nomination in the competitive race against Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II, according to The Tallahassee Democrat.

Lawson told the paper in a Tuesday story that he still has “too much debt from two previous congressional campaigns to run again this year.”

Lawson, a former state senator, has strong name identification that would have helped him win the primary. But Florida Democrats were grim about his chances in the general election. He came up short as the Democratic nominee in 2012 against Southerland.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has indicated Graham, the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., is a preferred candidate. Graham was among the committee’s earliest batch of recruits named to the DCCC’s Jumpstart program.

In a June CQ Roll Call interview with Lawson, he described Graham as “a nice lady” but criticized her for weak name identification.

“She has a lot of work to do,” he said at the time. “Even if I don’t run, she will have a major uphill battle against Southerland.”

The race is rated Leans Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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