PHILADELPHIA — Progressive groups rescinded their endorsement of Rep. Alan Grayson in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday, a major blow to the progressive firebrand’s chances after domestic abuse allegations surfaced against him.
Grayson’s ex-wife repeatedly went to the police over a 20-year period to report abuse, Politico revealed on Tuesday. Through his lawyer, the congressman has denied the allegations.
“Unfortunately, this deeply disappointing revelation means progressives have no great options in the Florida race for Senate,” leaders from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America said in a joint statement. The groups said they are “no longer willing” to back him.
The PCCC and DFA were viewed as Grayson’s most intense base of support—essentially his lifeline in a hotly-contested primary battle with Rep. Patrick Murphy to be the Democratic challenger to Sen. Marco Rubio.
The groups noted that this was the first time they had ever revoked an endorsement, and called on Grayson to donate all contributions from their members to an organization benefitting victims of domestic abuse.
Lolita Grayson called police on her husband at least four times and sought medical attention at least twice as a result of the alleged abuse, according to documents and police reports she provided to Politico. No charges were ever filed in any of the incidents.
Moderate Democrats, particularly members of the party’s establishment, have always viewed Grayson as an inflammatory figure who has a history of threatening reporters and would likely lose to Rubio in a year when the party has a strong chance of flipping GOP-controlled seats in swing states.
“Our best chance of taking that Senate seat is Murphy,” a Democratic strategist told The Daily Beast. “The most important goal from a progressive point of view is who’s going to be the majority leader. … It’s a big deal who controls the Senate. We have the ability to completely transform the Supreme Court in the next four years.”
In 2005, Lolita Grayson told police that the congressman had threatened to kill her, according to a sheriff’s report. Grayson denied that he had ever abused his wife through a comment his lawyer provided to Politico.
“Lolita is a disturbed woman. She has made one false allegation after another. Her own daughter refutes her,” said Grayson’s lawyer Mark Nejame, referring to the Alan Grayson’s oldest child who has previously spoken in defense of the congressman.
Prior to the newly reported allegations, there had been one widely known incident involving Alan and Lolita Grayson.
In March 2014, the couple—who at that point were estranged—reportedly got into a physical altercation when Alan Grayson visited their five children at the house they had previously shared. The Graysons had contradictory accounts and accusations following the incident.
While Lolita Grayson told police that the congressman had “shoved” her, Alan Grayson denied that he had in any way laid hands on her. He further claimed that Lolita Grayson had struck him during the incident.
Here at the Democratic convention Tuesday, Alan Grayson threatened to have a Politico reporter arrested and alleged that the reporter had assaulted him while asking about the allegations.
Grayson was departing from an event hosted by the news outlet, when reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere approached the congressman. A video of the exchange appears to show Grayson briefly placing his hands on Dovere in an attempt to move the reporter out of the way.
“You’re getting in my way, my friend. You’re assaulting a member of Congress. You’re pushing me. Have this guy escorted out, please,” a furious Grayson said as he was making his way toward an elevator.
The reporter responded that he was trying to ask Grayson a question, and noted that the congressman had come to an event hosted by the news outlet.
“You know, I’m hoping that somebody comes here and arrests you,” Grayson said later in the exchange. “We’ll see if that happens or not.”