Former Lawmaker, Governor Dies

Former Lawmaker, Governor Dies

( – Republicans largely dominate Florida politics today, but it wasn’t always that way. The state has a long history of being led by Democrats. One of its well-known leaders, Bob Graham, who served as a senator and state governor, recently passed away.

Gwen Graham, the former lawmaker’s daughter, announced her father’s death in a statement from the family on X, formerly Twitter, on April 16. It noted that he “devoted his life to the betterment of the world around him,” and though he loved politics, he loved being a father and especially a grandfather, known to his grandkids as “Doodle,” more. He was 87.

President Joe Biden also released a statement on Graham’s death. The two served together in the US Senate, very closely at times, co-sponsoring legislation and supporting each other. Biden said Graham “was full of humor and humanity” and “loved people.” It was this love that drove him to work alongside his constituents, to learn about their struggles so he could better support and govern them.

Graham not only worked in his official capacity as a state legislator, but also eight hours a day in entry-level jobs, including as a bellhop, short-order cook, plumber, tomato picker, and various other roles. After gaining little political traction, involving himself in the community allowed him to bond with Floridians and eventually propelled him to become the 38th state governor, a role he held from 1979 to 1987.

After serving as governor, Graham ran for and won a US Senate seat, where he would remain for nearly 20 years. During his time in the Senate, he chaired the Intelligence Committee and following the 9/11 attacks, became a national spokesman on security and intelligence issues. He’s also well-known for publicly criticizing George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.

He even made a short-lived bid for the White House in 2003 but underwent heart surgery and eventually dropped out of the primary race for the 2004 election. That would signal the end of his political career, too, as he did not run again for senator, and his seat was flipped red when Mel Martinez was elected.

Graham is survived by his wife of 65 years, Adele, his four daughters, 10 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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