ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson announced Monday he will run for Florida’s District 9 congressional seat, the job he held from 2013-2017.
“I’m back and I’m running for my old seat in Congress,” Grayson said. “We did a lot of good things for a lot of people and I don’t see that happening right now.”
In an exclusive interview with News 6, the three-term congressman said recent polling convinced him he should run for the job he walked away from to pursue a seat in the U.S. Senate two years ago.
“We’re professional about this,” Grayson said. “The polling indicates we’re in an extremely strong position in my old district. There were other opportunities (districts), but the numbers were extremely strong.”
The Orlando Political Observer cited a web poll that gave Grayson more than 60 percent of the vote over incumbent U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.
University of Central Florida political professor James Clark said that while the Grayson-Soto primary poses an interesting dynamic of political personalities, it certainly is not a sure thing for Grayson.
“The district has become more Puerto Rican and it’s hard to beat an incumbent,” Clark said.
Clark said the Puerto Rican base is firmly behind Soto and he appears to have community support.
Still, Grayson’s campaign already has nearly $200,000 ready to spend and his knack for bashing the GOP could make him a Democratic Party favorite.
When asked why he decided to run now, Grayson admitted he has missed being in Congress and felt Congress was failing the American people.
“I think that it’s (Congress) doing horribly," Grayson said. “I think that we’ve lost our way. We’re seeing some of the worst economic mismanagement in the history of America and even the world.”
Grayson walked away from his congressional seat two years ago to run for U.S. Senate, losing badly in the Democratic primary to Patrick Murphy.
His wife, Dena, ran for the District 9 job and lost a close race with Soto.
Grayson is convinced Soto is vulnerable and, in his view, has done nothing to earn a second term.
“Look, what happened last time against my wife and district director -- collectively they got almost 60 percent of the vote, so the Grayson vote was split right down the middle and now it will be united,” he said.
Grayson said his No. 1 priority is to increase Social Security and Medicare benefits.
“Senior citizens deserve a raise. It’s been 42 years since the last increase in Social Security. I want to increase benefits, not just protect them or whatever the current cliche might be,” Grayson said.
Grayson is critical of President Donald Trump and told News 6 he would call for his removal from office.
“Look, I’ll tell you right now, I intend to vote for the impeachment of President Trump," Grayson said. “We need to take back our future and our future has to be directed to making sure that Americans have the things to have a good life."