This morning Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson officially declared his candidacy for the U.S Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio’s run for president. The Firebrand Democrat took a few minutes to discuss his new campaign with the Observer, in a phone conversation from Washington.
Take a read below:
Frank Torres for the Orlando Political Observer: Congressman, thanks for taking a few minutes for us today. You officially launched your campaign for Senate this morning. Tell us, what is this campaign going to be about?
Congressman Alan Grayson: It’s specifically about dealing with growing inequality in the country and how it impacts seniors. What I’m focusing on is 3 particular issues concerning seniors. One is the cost of living adjustment. We need to go back and compensate seniors for what they’ve missed out on, and elevate social security payments to the point where there fair again. Second, is that Seniors get taxed twice. Once when you pay in, an once when payments are given back. It’s unfair and I intend to eliminate it. Third, Seniors have eyes, ears, and teeth but aren’t included in medicare coverage. We have seniors going blind and can’t get treated. We’re going to have a sick leave amendment in Florida, I used my resources in Orange County to get it on the ballot in 2012, and it passed. It’s going to be a major issue next year. I’m going to strive for universal and affordable healthcare coverage. I’m also a strong supporter of Elizabeth Warren‘s proposal to lower the interest on student loans. These are the issues that we’re going to talk about. No one else is talking about these issues. This is whats on the voter’s minds.
Torres: The incumbent running for President, he’s your complete political opposite. What can Florida voters expect from a Senator Grayson administration in it’s first year?
Grayson: I will show up. It’s disheartening that our Junior Senator from Florida Marco Rubio has the worst attendance record in the U.S Senate, this was before his Presidential campaign, so that’s no excuse. Ninety percent of life is showing up and Florida voters deserve better than what they’re seeing from him.
Torres: The voters here in Central Florida know you well. You’ve got a big national profile as well, but beyond what people see in the news, what do the rest of Florida voters need to know about you?
Grayson: I get things done. I mean, in the past two years since I’ve returned for Congresss, I’m number one in bills written, number one in amendments passed on the floor of the house, even though I’m in the minority party. We’ve had over a dozen of our bills pass the house, pass the Senate, and get signed by the President. These are actual, literal accomplishments. When I say I’m going to get things done, I do.
Torres: There were readers that were buzzing earlier this week, when you said you would accept Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as President in a television interview. Now, were you saying that you would support Paul over the Democratic nominee? What was that all about? There seemed to be some confusion there.
Grayson: There were a lot of attempts to make confusion out of that interview. The clip that I saw cut out the question. You couldn’t see the beginning of my answer either. Obviously, there are forces out there that are trying to stir up controversy. It’s ridiculous.
Torres: So, what was the complete answer?
Grayson: I said that Rand Paul is not a clown. I said the candidates in the Republican field looked like clowns in a clown car. I wouldn’t put Rand Paul in that category. There are many, many, things that I disagree with Rand Paul about. We do agree that we’re in too many foreign conflicts and that the government shouldn’t spy on people that are innocent.
Torres: Your current opponent, in terms of style is als your complete opposites. Why should Florida Democrats pick you over him?
Grayson: They already are. Patrick Murphy has been campaigning for four months now, and he’s 40% down in the polls according to a Gravis Poll. Why is that? First of all people understand I work hard and I get things done. Democrats know I’m a champion for justice, peace, and equality. They see me on their TV screen and they appreciate that I’m a fighter. I’m not playing games. Patrick gave $2300 to Mitt Romney. Patrick changed his party when he decided to run for Congress. Patrick has the 4th worst voting record among all of the Democrats and frankly, he’s a Republican masquerading as a Democrat. He went on television saying he wants to cut social security and medicare. I represent the heart and soul of the Democratic party, and he represents party flippers and he’ll get the votes of all of the Democrats that gave to Mitt Romney.
Torres: Your District, the Congressional 9th District here at home is important to Democrats. There has already been one candidate to file. What qualities should the next member of Congress from the 9th have? And is there a particular person you’d like to see take this seat?
Grayson: It’s up to the voters. It’s very early. It’s not my seat, I don’t own it. It’s up to the voters of Central Florida.
Torres: In closing, anything else to add?
Grayson: We’ve had enormous fundraising success. We raised more than $100,000 in 24 hrs. Only Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and now Bernie Sanders have larger donor bases. I was and still am the only member of Congress to raise most of his donations through small donations. I’m unowned and un-bought. I don’t have to go around begging corporations for $10,000 checks.