The Florida Education Association is backing Democrat Gwen Graham, a former schools’ counsel in Leon County, for governor.
“Supporting Gwen Graham is an easy choice for anyone concerned about Florida’s schools. She is the public education dream candidate,” FEA president Joanne McCall stated in a letter to members Thursday night. “She supports increasing salaries for educators and wants to ensure that lottery money actually goes toward educational enhancements.”
All four campaigning Democrats have made those pledges, with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum going so far as to pledge a minimum $50,000 starting salary. Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also have made detailed pledges. Jeff Greene continues to pursue the silent phase of his fledgling campaign.
The leading Republicans, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, had no shot at the FEA endorsement.
Graham has pushed public education investments and improvements as her top priority since entering the race 13 months ago, and has held a series of roundtable discussions with teachers around the state. She’s also a former PTA president, and she began the WorkDays portion of her campaign at Miami Carol City Senior High School.
The Florida Education Association, with its 140,000 Florida teachers and school support professionals members, has long been a potent force in Democratic Party politics.
“Since beginning my campaign with a workday at Miami Carol City Senior High School, I have heard from countless educators, students and parents ready for a change in Tallahassee,” Graham said. “Earning the support of Florida’s teachers and school support professionals means the world to me. When I am governor, they will finally have a voice in the Governor’s Office. Together, we will end high-stakes testing, increase educators’ salaries, and restore our promise to Florida’s public schools.”