About Us » Senator Bob Graham

Senator Bob Graham

He was born November 9, 1936, in Dade County, Florida. He married the former Adele Khoury, of Miami Shores, in 1959. They have four daughters: Gwen Graham Logan, Cissy Graham McCullough, Suzanne Graham Gibson and Kendall Graham Elias. The Grahams also have 10 grandchildren. Graham is the son of Ernest "Cap" Graham, a Florida state senator, mining engineer, and dairy/cattleman, and Hilda Simmons Graham, a schoolteacher. He is the youngest of four children. His siblings are the late Philip Graham; William Graham of Miami Lakes, Florida; and the late Mary Crow.
Workdays: Bob Graham began Workdays in 1974, teaching a semester of civics at Carol City Senior High School in Miami while serving in the Florida Senate. He performed 100 Workdays in 1986 during his first successful campaign for governor. He has completed nearly 400 Workdays - more than a year's worth of days spent laboring side-by-side with the people he represents. His Workdays are an extension of his belief in a personal style of governing. 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, railroad engineer, construction worker, fisherman, garbage man, factory worker, busboy, and teacher. On No. 365, he checked in customers, handled baggage and helped serve passengers on USAirways. By working closely with Floridians, Graham learns about the hopes and challenges they face. For him, there is no substitute for that kind of on-the-job experience.
State Legislator: Florida State Representative, elected 1966, reelected 1968; Florida State Senator, elected 1970, reelected 1974 As a legislator, Graham was a pioneer in support of improving public education. He authored and steered to passage a bill requiring testing for competency and progress in public schools. Graham also authored much of the state’s environmental law. As chairman of the Senate Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee, he focused on two key issues - more adequate services for the elderly and community health services. Bob Graham's leadership and effectiveness as a lawmaker earned him statewide recognition. He was the recipient of the St. Petersburg Times Award for Most Valuable Legislator, the Allen Morris Award as Most Valuable Member of the Senate, the Florida Association of Community Colleges' Outstanding Legislator Award, the Tropical Audubon Society’s Conservation Award and many others.
Governor: Elected 1978, and reelected 1982, Bob Graham served as the 38th Governor of Florida. He was recognized for providing strong leadership during a time of explosive population growth and dramatic challenges, including a truckers' strike, civil disturbances and immigration crises.
Economic Development: While serving as governor, Graham worked to diversify Florida's economy. During his administration, the unemployment rate in Florida remained well below the national average; more than one million new jobs were created, many of them in high-tech manufacturing. Florida's business climate was ranked No. 1 in the nation for three consecutive years, 1981-1983. Expanding trade opportunities for Florida business was an important element of Graham's tenure as governor. While the balance of all U.S. trade ran a deficit, Florida's exports exceeded imports through the majority of Graham's administration.
Education: Recognizing that a vital component of economic strength is a quality education system, Graham worked to improve all public schools during his eight years as Florida's governor. Key indicators of excellence in education rose under Graham. Class sizes in public schools decreased, while teacher salaries increased. Per pupil spending rose from 21st to 13th in the nation in four years. The percentage of community college and university students surpassing required standards on basic skills test climbed from 64 percent to 89 percent over three years during the Graham administration. Graham's efforts in education have been recognized nationally. In 1983, the Chief State School Officers Association recognized Graham for making the "Most Outstanding Contribution to Education" in America.
Environment: As governor, Graham pioneered several environmental programs which have attracted national and international attention, including efforts to save the Everglades, protect wetlands and safeguard Florida's coastline. During Graham's two terms as governor, Florida brought more environmentally endangered lands into public ownership than any other state in the nation. This included acquisition of sensitive lands surrounding rivers, beaches and barrier islands. The Save Our Everglades program, launched in 1983, was designed to restore America's "River of Grass" and protect Florida's wetlands, endangered species and their habitats. As Senator, Graham led the bipartisan coalition that passed the federal Everglades restoration plan in 2000. Today, Graham is known as the father of the Everglades Restoration effort.
Health Care and Human Services: During the Graham administration, policies that aimed to help both Florida's aging population and its youngest citizens were implemented. By expanding "Community Care for the Elderly," a service program which enables frail or infirm older citizens to remain in their homes, Graham helped ensure self-sufficiency and independence for older Floridians. This resulted in less than 2 percent of Florida's elderly residing in nursing homes, versus 5 percent nationally. In eight years, Graham was able to expand child care and abuse prevention programs, increase prenatal and neonatal medical attention, and expand emergency medical facilities for infants and mothers. With these programs, both infant mortality and neonatal mortality decreased significantly.
Organizations: While governor, Graham served as a chairman of the Southern Governors Association, the Education Commission of the States, the Southern Regional Educational Board, the National Advisory Commission on School Finance, the U.S. Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education, and the Southern Growth Policies Board.
United States Senator: Elected 1986, reelected 1992, 1998 In his third U.S. Senate term, Bob Graham emerged as a leading voice of moderate Democrats bent on putting results ahead of politics. His centrist philosophy and commitment to bipartisanship have made him a major player in some of the most important issues facing Americans today, from reforming Medicare to ensuring our continued prosperity.
As the founder and past chairman of the Senate New Democrats, Graham has worked to bring together a coalition that shares his views to promote sound fiscal policy while emphasizing paying down the debt and social policies that strikes an equitable balance between the needs of all Americans. These moderates have helped to shape the debate on issues ranging from trade to education. As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 107th Congress, Graham led efforts to improve our nation's intelligence agencies. Since the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, he has been a leader in refocusing and strengthening the nation's counterterrorism efforts. He was a primary author of the portions of the USA PATRIOT Act which mandate greater information sharing among foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement agencies to help fight a unified war on terrorism. Graham also was the chief sponsor of a five-year plan for bolstering our intelligence capabilities, contained in the Fiscal Year 2002 and 2003 Intelligence Authorization Bills. With Florida Congressman Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Graham co-chaired the historic joint House-Senate review of the events surrounding the September 11th attacks.
The Joint Inquiry adopted a final report in December 2002 that included 19 recommendations aimed at bolstering our nation's intelligence capabilities. He has introduced legislation that would implement the joint committee's recommendations. Graham also has led efforts to improve security at our nation's seaports. In 1997, after a Workday at Port Manatee in Florida, the senator convinced former President Bill Clinton to establish a federal commission to evaluate both the nature and extent of crime at our seaports, as well as their overall state of security. Recommendations from the Interagency Commission on Crime and Security at United States Seaports were the basis for a comprehensive maritime security bill that became law in December 2002. Even before September 11th, Graham was the primary mover behind Counterintelligence 21, which President Clinton signed in December 2000 and the Bush administration pledged to continue. This initiative is a far-reaching, methodical approach to identifying the most sensitive information in our government and then safeguarding that information. Graham has long been an advocate of engagement with the Americas, particularly Colombia.
After several visits to the region, Graham introduced and secured passage of bipartisan legislation that will greatly expand free-trade benefits to Colombia and other nations in the Andean region. Graham believes that expanded trade will create economic opportunities in the region beyond the illegal narcotics industry. The need for a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare recipients has long been apparent. Since 1999, Graham has led his party in fighting for a plan that would provide equitable, comprehensive and affordable drug coverage for all Americans over 65. Prescription drug coverage is just one of the changes Graham believes is necessary to bring Medicare into the 21st century. He has long advocated legislation that would reorient Medicare from a sickness program to a wellness program by offering preventative benefits to head off disease before it becomes life-threatening. Graham legislation worked to ensure that low-income legal immigrant children and pregnant women have access to the Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to meet their health-care needs. He worked with a bipartisan coalition to restore Medicaid and other benefits taken from legal immigrants in the 1996 welfare reform law. Similarly, he pushed for Congress to live up to promises made in that law to maintain funding for social services grants to the states.
As a strong supporter of welfare reform, he believes it is necessary to keep focused on the original intent of that landmark legislation - helping adults achieve self-sufficiency. This legislation is particularly important in high-immigration states like Florida. Graham considers Florida's diversity one of its greatest assets and has been a leader in the quest for rational immigration policy. He brought together a broad coalition of business and labor leaders to craft compromise legislation that would provide workers for agricultural purposes and offer hard-working immigrants an opportunity for permanent legal status. While taking a lead on the national stage, Graham remained active in and attentive to Florida issues. Graham remains strongly opposed to drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, sponsoring legislation that would extend the current moratoria indefinitely and buy back leases in environmentally sensitive areas.
Graham also spearheaded a campaign to end dredging practices that have degraded the Apalachicola River. Graham's commitment to higher education motivated him to lead an effort in Florida to restore a centralized board to oversee the state university system. In November 2002, Floridians overwhelmingly agreed with him. Nearly 61 percent of voters supported an amendment to the constitution to permanently create a Board of Governors to guide the future of Florida's 11 state universities. In the 108th Congress, Graham served as a senior member of the powerful Finance Committee, which handles tax, trade and health-care legislation, and the committees on Environment and Public Works, Energy and Natural Resources.
Graham and his family have been active in Florida’s economic development since 1920. His father founded a dairy at Pennsuco in 1932. The family continues to operate dairy, beef cattle and pecan farms in Florida and Georgia. With his two older brothers, Graham established the Graham Companies and commenced the planning and development of New Town, Miami Lakes in 1960. The population of Miami Lakes has grown to more than 22,000 with 10,000 people employed in its industrial and office parks and commercial centers.
Graham attended Hialeah Elementary and Junior High Schools. He began his political career as the student body president of Miami Senior High School, graduating in 1955. He received a bachelor's degree in 1959 from the University of Florida, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, a member of Florida Blue Key and Chancellor of Honor Court.

Graham received a bachelor of law degree from Harvard Law School in 1962.
In 2002, a school in Miami Lakes was named the “Bob Graham Education Center.” Graham said it was one of the greatest honors of his life.