Bob Graham

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Bob Graham
Bob Graham, official Senate photo portrait, color.jpg
United States Senator
from Florida
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Paula Hawkins
Succeeded by Mel Martinez
38th Governor of Florida
In office
January 2, 1979 – January 3, 1987
Lieutenant Wayne Mixson
Preceded by Reubin Askew
Succeeded by Wayne Mixson
Chairperson of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
In office
May 21, 2010 – January 11, 2011
Served with William Reilly
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Richard Shelby
Succeeded by Pat Roberts
Personal details
Born Daniel Robert Graham
(1936-11-09) November 9, 1936 (age 84)
Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Adele Khoury
Children Gwen
Alma mater University of Florida
Harvard Law School
Religion United Church of Christ

Daniel Robert "Bob" Graham (born November 9, 1936) is an American politician and author. He was the 38th Governor of Florida from 1979 to 1987 and a United States Senator from that state from 1987 to 2005.

Graham ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out of the race on October 6, 2003. He announced his retirement from the Senate on November 3 of that year.

Graham now works at the newly established Bob Graham Center for Public Service at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Florida. He also served as Chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism. Through the WMD policy center he advocates for the recommendations in the Commission's report, "World at Risk."

Graham also served as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the CIA External Advisory Board.

In 2011 Graham published his first novel, the thriller The Keys to the Kingdom.[1] Graham has written three nonfiction books: Workdays: Finding Florida on the Job, Intelligence Matters, and America: The Owners Manual.

Personal background

File:Graham, Bob.jpg
Bob Graham signing books at the Miami Book Fair International 2011.

Graham was born in Coral Gables, Florida, the son of Hilda Elizabeth (née Simmons), a schoolteacher, and Ernest R. Graham, a Florida state senator, mining engineer, and dairy/cattleman.[2] He is the youngest of four children. His siblings are Philip Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post; William Graham of Miami Lakes, Florida; and Mary Crow. He married Adele Khoury Graham, of Miami Shores, in 1959. They have four daughters: Gwen Graham, Cissy Graham McCullough, Suzanne Graham Gibson and Kendall Graham Elias. The Grahams also have 11 grandchildren.

Bob Graham attended Miami Senior High School from 1952 to 1955, he was Student Body President his senior year. He was International Trustee of the Key Club, the Kiwanis service organization. While at Miami High Graham was the recipient of the Sigma Chi Award, the school's highest honor. He received a bachelor's degree in 1959 in political science from the University of Florida, where he was a member of the Epsilon Zeta chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the University of Florida Hall of Fame and Florida Blue Key. He went on to receive an LLB from Harvard Law School in 1962. His eldest brother, Philip (1915–1963), was also a Harvard Law alum.

Political career

Graham was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966 and reelected in 1968. He was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1970 and reelected in 1972 and 1976. At retirement he had served 38 consecutive years in public office.


Bob Graham's campaign trademark was to work a full eight-hour day at various jobs that represented Florida's constituents. He began his "Workdays" in 1974, teaching a semester of civics at Miami Carol City Senior High School in Miami while serving in the Florida Senate. At that time, Bob Graham was chairman of the Education Committee. After a speech, M. Sue Riley, an English teacher at Carol City, approached Bob Graham and said, "The only problem with members of the Education Committee is nobody has any experience in education." Bob Graham was taken aback at that assertion and asked, "Well, what can I do about that?" A few months later, Ms. Riley contacted Senator Graham with a proposal to teach the next semester of civics. Following that teaching experience, he performed 102 additional work days during his successful 1978 gubernatorial campaign. Graham has continued doing workdays throughout his tenure as governor and in the United States Senate. His jobs have included service as a police officer, busboy, railroad engineer, construction worker, fisherman, garbageman, factory worker, and teacher. On No. 365, he checked in customers, handled baggage and helped serve passengers on US Airways. He totaled 408 work days.[citation needed]

Governor of Florida

Bob Graham was elected Governor of Florida in 1978 after a seven-way Democratic primary race in which he initially placed second to Robert L. Shevin. His supporters at the time dubbed themselves "Graham crackers." With this victory, he realized his father's dream: Cap Graham had run unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to be Governor of Florida back in 1944. Graham was re-elected in 1982 with 65 percent of the vote, having defeated the Republican nominee, U.S. Representative L. A. "Skip" Bafalis of Palm Beach.

Graham emphasized education, and placed a focus on improvement of the public universities in the state. By the end of his second term the state university system was among the first quartile of state systems in America, and its public schools and community colleges had substantially improved their academic standing.

In addition, Graham's administration focused on economic diversification and environmental policies. During his tenure as Governor, the state added 1.2 million jobs, and for the first time in state history the per capita income of Floridians exceeded the US average. For three of his eight years Florida was rated by the accounting firm Grant Thornton as having the best business climate of all states in the union.

Graham also launched the most extensive environmental protection program in the state's history, focused on preserving endangered lands. During his tenure thousands of acres of threatened and environmentally important lands were brought into state ownership for permanent protection. His keystone accomplishment was the establishment of the Save the Everglades program, which has now been joined by the federal government in a commitment to restore the Everglades.

Graham left the Governorship with an 83% approval rating. According to the New York Times, Graham was considered one of the most popular politicians in Florida.[3]

U.S. Senator

Graham was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, defeating incumbent Sen. Paula Hawkins 55 to 45 percent. He was re-elected in 1992 (over Bill Grant, 66%–34%) and 1998 (over Charlie Crist, 63%–37%) and chose not to seek re-election in 2004, retiring from the Senate in January 2005.

During his 18 years in the Senate, Graham served on the environment and finance committees. He was also active on veteran's issues and foreign policy, including chairing the US-Spain Council, for which he received the highest civilian recognition for a non-Spaniard by King Juan Carlos.

He served for 10 years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chaired during and after 9/11 and the run up to the Iraq war. As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Graham opposed the War in Iraq for fear it would divert U.S. attention from the fight in Afghanistan. After reviewing information and meeting with military leaders in February 2002, he decided the war would be a "distraction" that would end poorly. He continues to oppose the Iraq War today.[4] As a result of his service as the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in 2004 Bob Graham authored the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia and the Failure of America's War on Terror. In September 2008 the book was released as a Paperback with a new preface and postscript.

Bob Graham was a founding member of the Democratic Leadership Council.

He has a well-known habit of meticulously logging his daily activities (some as mundane as when he ate a tunafish sandwich or rewound a tape of Ace Ventura[5]) on color-coded notebooks, which some say may have cost him a spot on past vice-presidential tickets. All of the notebooks are now housed at the University of Florida library. A great champion for his home state, Graham always kept Florida orange juice on hand in his Senate office and was rarely seen without his trademark Florida tie.

Presidential and Vice Presidential politics

Graham was considered as a potential Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2004.[6][7] In 2000 he was reportedly on Al Gore's shortlist of potential running mates,[8] as well as a confirmed finalist on Bill Clinton's list in 1992.

2004 Presidential Race

Graham announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2004 election on the Democratic ticket in December 2002. On January 31, 2003, he had open-heart surgery and his campaign faltered. He withdrew his candidacy on October 7, 2003. In November, he announced that he would not seek another term in the Senate.

After John Kerry became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in March 2004, some discussed the possibility that Graham would be on the short list of Kerry's choices for vice president, presumably at least in part because having Graham on the ticket might have helped Kerry win Florida.

After politics

File:Former senator Bob Graham 2.jpg
Former Senator Graham (center), with former Florida Governor Buddy MacKay (right) at the dedication ceremony for Pugh Hall, home of the Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida.

After teaching at Harvard University for the 2005–2006 academic year, Graham is now focused on founding a center to train future political leaders, at the University of Florida – where he earned his bachelor's degree in political science in 1959.

The UF Center, known as the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, is housed in the university's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences the Center provides students with opportunities to train for future leadership positions, and the university community to engage with policy makers and scholars. On February 9, 2008, The James and Alexis Pugh Hall funded by longtime friends of the Graham's was dedicated in the historic area of the UF campus. Pugh Hall serves as the home of the Center, as well as the university's oral history and African and Asian languages programs.

In the Spring of 2009 Bob Graham published a book titled "America, The Owner's Manual: Making Government work for you" which aims to inspire and teach citizens how they can participate in their democracy in effective ways.

Since retirement from the Senate, Graham has published almost 70 op ed's on State and National issues.

Bob Graham's most recent venture was to create the Florida Conservation Coalition, which aims to unite numerous environmental groups by one vision advocate to the Florida governor and legislature to recognize environmental issues in Florida and take action on them so that 40 years of hard work at the state level are not reversed. Their website is

Business interests

The Graham dairy farm transformed Miami Lakes, a residential and commercial new town community, in 1963 under the leadership of Bob Graham's brother, William. To this day, Bob Graham still owns a significant share of the Graham Companies, and serves on the board of directors. To avoid a potential conflict of interest, his various investments, including his share in the Miami Lakes development, are managed by a proxy and reported to Graham at the end of each year. Graham's total net worth is reported to be between $7.35 million and $31.7 million[citation needed].


On November 18, 2005, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was rebuilt during Graham's time as Governor, was renamed the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge by the Florida Legislature.

On May 6, 2006 at the Spring commencement for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University of Florida awarded Bob Graham an honorary doctorate, the Doctor of Public Service.


  1. Linda Davidson. Bob Graham pens spy novel ‘Keys to the Kingdom’, The Washington Post, 2011-06-25; retrieved 2012-05-04
  3. Nagourney, Adam (December 24, 2002). "Senator Graham Considers Run for President". New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Stein, Sam (March 28, 2008). "Graham: I Never Wavered In My Belief That The War Was Wrong". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Tapper, Jake. "'1:30-1:45: Rewind Ace Ventura'". 2003-06-03. Retrieved 2014-11-08.
  6. Politics1 – Guide to the Inactive 2004 Democratic Presidential Prospects
  8. Gore, Lieberman prepare for public debut of Democratic ticket – August 7, 2000

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Reubin Askew
Governor of Florida
Succeeded by
Wayne Mixson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Gunter
Democratic nominee for Senator from Florida
(Class 3)

1986, 1992, 1998
Succeeded by
Betty Castor
Preceded by
Chuck Robb
Chairperson of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Bob Kerrey
United States Senate
Preceded by
Paula Hawkins
United States Senator (Class 3) from Florida
Served alongside: Lawton Chiles, Connie Mack, Bill Nelson
Succeeded by
Mel Martinez
Preceded by
Richard Shelby
Chairperson of Senate Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Pat Roberts
Government offices
New office Chairperson of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Served alongside: William Reilly
Position expired