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Conversation: Alan Grayson On Florida Politics "I'll Be Back"


Alan Grayson has been in and out of Congress for the last seven years. He gave up his seat last year for a failed bid for the senate. But as he tells 90.7’s Catherine Welch, he’s not done with politics. They start their conversation discussing Grayson’s filing for Florida’s 11th congressional district.

ALAN GRAYSON: Well remember I've been through this before. I lost by 18 points in the great Tea Party wave of 2010. I won by 25 points just two years later in 2012 according to the House historian, that 43-point swing was the biggest comeback in the history of the US Congress.

CATHERINE WELCH: And how is it going to be for you to be watching from the outside? Will you be metaphorically yelling at your television wishing you could be there and be a part of the fight, or do you see you have a role in this from the outside?

GRYASON: Well I'll definitely wish I could be there and be part the fight. That's why I ran for the Senate. I didn’t decide that I was done with public life, I actually tried for a promotion and the Democratic Party, D.C. corrupt establishment denied it to me. But I ran for the Senate and hope that I’d very much be part of that, and I'm sure that I'll find other ways to remain involved in useful. In particular I'm interested in promoting and advancing a restoration of rights here in Florida. One thing that became obvious to me as I was running as a statewide candidate around the state is that in African American communities the conditions are often horrific – I'll give you one example. I went to church in Tampa where they just casually mention as part of the service that in a couple of days they're going to have special seminar for the younger members of the congregation about how not to get shot. This is what life is in many African American communities around the state, in Tallahassee in Jacksonville, Orlando, in Tampa and Miami, and in other places well. And I think that the underlying cause of that is political powerlessness. That comes from the fact that 23 percent of all African American adults in Florida can't vote. They're convicted felons, they can't vote. That is the highest percentage in the entire country and it's dramatically weakened the African American community politically.

Welch: If I could just hit pause, I want to stay on this topic for a moment, there is a move in Florida to restore civil rights voting rights. Is that something you're going to focus your energy on for the state of Florida or are you looking more broadly?

Grayson: Well I already have. I've been helping those people who were involved that effort, and becoming one of them over time, and joining them over time with that effort.  I intend to remain active in that regard. I introduced the first bill on that for national restoration of rights that had ever been introduced in Congress. I did that a few months ago. I basically did that as sort of a template indicating what we could do in Florida and elsewhere in the country. I also think that apart from putting it on the ballot through an amendment, a constitutional amendment, I think there are other avenues as well. It makes no sense whatsoever that if an African American is in Vermont he can vote but if you move to Florida he loses his right to vote.

Welch: When you say an African American you mean an ex-felon.

Grayson: That's right.

Welch: So what's on your agenda then for say the next six months? Are you going to dig in and get to work on this effort, or what are your plans?

Grayson: I will but how you know frankly there's a lot of catching up to do there's a lot of loose ends I'm going to, for instance, go on my long delayed honeymoon. It'll be fun. And that there's just a lot of things that I put aside because I didn’t have the time to do them when I was a member of Congress, and those things need to get done. Some of them have been waiting for four years on the waiting for eight years, some of them waiting longer than that. I started to write a book a few years ago, I finished 100 pages of it, I stopped, I'm going to get back to that.

Welch: So has Florida not seen the last of Alan Grayson? Will we be seeing you in very public ways working as a private citizen to advance political issues?

Grayson: Yes, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said “I’ll be back.”