Tallahassee Commissioner Gil Ziffer is endorsing Gwen Graham for Governor and the move sparked backlash from his colleague, Mayor Andrew Gillum who is also seeking the Democratic nomination.
In a terse statement, Gillum’s campaign spokesman says the mayor never sought Ziffer’s endorsement and calls Gwen Graham a “conservative Democrat.” The Gillum campaign noted he and the commissioner disagree over policies like Ban the Box, a Gillum initiative Ziffer didn’t support.
"Gwen Graham's a self-described 'very conservative Democrat' and voted to weaken Dodd-Frank provisions, while Gil Ziffer voted against "Ban the Box" legislation in the City Commission and didn't back the Mayor's renewed push to fight the gun lobby following the shooting in Parkland," said campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan. "We never sought his endorsement, and would not have accepted given these strong policy differences."
Ziffer says he’s backing Graham because of what he calls a proven track record of supporting families. He cites Graham’s roles on parent-teacher groups, her work as a public school employee and her Congressional record.
“Gwen Graham has a proven record of standing up for Florida families — as a local PTA volunteer, as a public school official, and representing us in Congress,” Ziffer said in a statement released by the Graham campaign.
“She also is a fierce defender of home rule and strongly supported local communities in their fight against Fracking in Florida. Gwen defeated an incumbent, NRA-endorsed, tea party Congressman and is a fighter who's proven she can win the big battles. I am proud to offer her my most enthusiastic endorsement for governor.”
Ziffer is the first city commissioner to make a gubernatorial endorsement. Leon County Commissioners John Dailey and Kristin Dozier have also endorsed Graham.