Daughter of former Florida Gov launches bid against Rep Southerland

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In a release announcing her bid, Graham framed herself as a "Washington outsider," running as an independent for the seat.

"I'm running for Congress to represent you with an independent voice in Washington. I will work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to create jobs; invest in education and balance our budget -- with a plan that stands up for the middle class, keeps taxes low and protects Medicare and Social Security," she said.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) reportedly contacted Graham in early February about a run, and he touted her as a strong potential candidate at a recent recruiting meeting.

National Democrats have already set their sights on Southerland, who defeated Democrat Al Lawson by about six percentage points in 2012, but represents a district that became more favorable to Democrats due to redistricting.

And the Graham name makes Gwen Graham a strong candidate for the seat, as her father, a former senator; governor and onetime presidential contender, is well-known across the state.

She could, however, face a primary challenge from Lawson, who has not yet ruled out another bid for the seat. He told the Tallahassee Democrat that he had spoken with Graham and warned her not to lean too heavily on her family name.

“I told her it’s not going to be a race about her father, it’s going to be a race of what she can do up in Congress,” Lawson said. “I’ve never seen her involved with anything in this area.”

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