Tea Party Favorite, Food Stamp Foe Rep. Steve Southerland Loses Re-Election in Florida

Miguel Juarez/Zuma Press


It’s going to be a bad night for Democrats, but they’re getting a bit of good news out of Florida’s Second District: Republican Rep. Steve Southerland has lost his re-election bid to Democrat Gwen Graham. Southerland, a former mortician, was elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave, and quickly made a name for himself with his advocacy of major cuts to food stamp programs. He was thought to be a lock for re-election in this Florida Panhandle district, but Graham—a former school official and daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham—proved a formidable challenger.

Southerland was almost singularly devoted to the cause of slashing food assistance, calling it the “defining moral issue of our time” and “what I’m about.” In last year’s controversial farm bill, Southerland proposed a staggering $39 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. His controversial reform plan was widely seen as a factor that stalled the bill in Congress last year.