Thursday, December 26, 2002

Tallahassee Democrat | Beltway pundits shouldn't underestimate Bob Graham
As the outgoing chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Graham has credentials to talk about war and homeland security. Republicans will try to paint him as a liberal, especially since Florida's second-most-popular politician would like to succeed his brother in the White House, but that label has never stuck to Graham in the past.

Assuming California, Pennsylvania and New York remain "blue states," and the Democrats can hold Michigan and Illinois, it's hard to see how George W. Bush can reach 270 electoral votes without Florida. And if there's one thing Bob Graham has proved he can do, it's carry Florida.

You think Jeb Bush made it look easy last month, getting 56 percent of the vote? Well, Graham racked up nearly 65 percent - the easiest re-election since LeRoy Collins - in 1982.

By the time he was leaving the Governor's Mansion, Graham was the favorite to oust Republican Sen. Paula Hawkins of Maitland. He beat her by 325,000 votes in the same election that saw Gov. Bob Martinez usher in the era of GOP dominance in Florida politics.

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