Rep. Alan Grayson (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: March 13, 1958, New York, NY .
Education: Harvard U., B.A. 1978; J.D., 1983, M.A., 1983..
Family: Married (Lolita); 5 children.
Professional Career: Pres., IDT Corp., 1990-91; Partner, Grayson & Kubli P.C., 1991-2008.
The new congressman from the 8th District is Democrat Alan Grayson. In 2008, Grayson unseated incumbent Republican Ric Keller, a top Democratic target since reneging on the term-limits pledge he made in 2000.
|Alan Grayson (D)||172,854||(52%)||($3,210,502)|
|Ric Keller (R)||159,490||(48%)||($1,774,992)|
|Alan Grayson (D)||16,104||(48%)|
|Charlie Stuart (D)||9,146||(28%)|
|Mike Smith (D)||5,727||(17%)|
Grayson had a rough childhood growing up in the Bronx in New York City. A product of public housing, he says a bully threw him in the path of a bus when he was 11, but he survived. Standardized tests in high school identified him as gifted academically, and Grayson was accepted at Harvard University. To help get through financially, he lived modestly and took odd jobs cleaning toilets and working as a night watchman. He ultimately left Harvard with a law degree. Grayson went to work at a law firm, but in 1990 took a break from law to start a telecommunications firm. When he sold it, he became a wealthy man. In recent years, Grayson has worked as a lawyer, taking private defense contractors to court for providing faulty equipment to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He won a $10 million claim against defense contractor Custer Battles, which was found to have supplied the military with trucks that didn’t work properly.
Grayson emphasized his work against corrupt contractors during his campaign against Keller. The incumbent tried to use Grayson’s anti-war positions to paint him as an “ultra liberal,” and in one ad accused Grayson of advocating cutting off funds to troops in Iraq and of being allied with the Code Pink anti-war protest group. Keller also criticized Grayson for his relationship with law firm partner Victor A. Kubli, who, five years before joining Grayson’s firm, pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge. Grayson claimed he wasn’t aware of the conviction. Grayson accused Keller in an ad of being the deciding “no” vote on a bill that would have supplied returning war veterans with replacement limbs. In the ad, Grayson holds an artificial leg in his hand. Keller’s opposing vote was on a bill that actually would have funded several veterans’ programs.
Despite the mudslinging from both campaigns, Grayson connected with voters angered by Keller’s broken term-limit pledge. He was also helped by a surge in Democratic registration, and defeated Keller 52% to 48%. Grayson lost three out of the four counties that comprise the 8th District, but his 22,901 vote advantage in Orange County, which includes Orlando, swung the results in his favor. He was not shy about lending personal money to his campaign. He invested $2.6 million in the race and outspent Keller $3.2 million to $1.8 million. Grayson’s personal wealth makes him one of the richest members of Congress.
In his first month in the House, Grayson referred to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh as a “has-been hypocrite loser.” At a congressional hearing, he demanded that a Federal Reserve official explain why the Fed had not made more information regarding which banks received government bailout money available to the public. Then in the fall of 2009, Grayson hit the mother lode of free media with his remarks about GOP proposals to reform the health care system, which he summed up as “…the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.” He was an instant hit with liberal bloggers around the country, and was featured in several television interviews, during which he further appraised Republicans as “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”