Bob Graham Dead at 87

( – A former Florida governor and senator has died at the age of 87. Bob Graham served as governor for eight years during the Carter and Reagan administrations, then was elected to the US Senate three times. In total, he spent 38 consecutive years in elected posts.

Daniel Robert “Bob” Graham was born in Coral Gables, Florida, on November 9, 1936. His family background gave him an early introduction to politics; his father was a Florida state senator who’d run unsuccessfully as a Democrat gubernatorial candidate. After high school, Graham studied political science at the University of Florida and law at Harvard.

After graduating, he ran for the Florida House and was elected. In 1970, he moved to the Florida Senate and won re-election in 1972 and 1976. In 1978 he fought his way through a tough Democrat primary race to win the state’s gubernatorial election, backed by a group of supporters who called themselves Graham Crackers. He served two terms as governor, focusing on protecting the Florida Everglades and improving the state’s education system.

In 1986, Graham decided to move to national politics, and ran for a US Senate seat; he defeated GOP incumbent Paula Hawkins and went on to win re-election twice. He sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee for 10 years and led Congress’s inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Graham was skeptical of the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2002, he announced his candidacy for the 2004 presidential election, but withdrew in October 2003 after undergoing heart surgery; at the same time, he announced he wouldn’t run for re-election to the Senate.

After retiring from politics, Graham became a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics for a year and taught a citizenship class. He then founded the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida and became an active writer of op-eds and comment pieces. After suffering a stroke in 2020 he moved to a retirement community in Gainesville, Florida, where he died on April 16.

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