BY ERIC HAREN
On Wednesday, September 14, the HLS Democrats hosted former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) ’62. The former Governor of Florida and Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence spoke about succeeding in local and national politics and about American foreign policy. He also described his progress from law student to elected official. His wife Adele, who was also present at the event, confirmed that Senator Graham spent much of his time at HLS studying. Upon returning to his native Florida, however, Senator Graham worked as an attorney for several years before taking advantage of a sudden increase in the number of seats in the Florida state legislature to run for office. As an elected official he always tried to remain in contact with his constituents. One of his first decisions once elected was to teach a high school civics class after he was struck during a meeting with local students by their apparent confusion about the political process.
Senator Graham revealed how this memorable experience led him to spend many days of his tenure as an elected official working side by side with people in different occupations. Experiences working with his constituents informed Senator Graham’s public work. He encouraged the audience to remain “generalists” and to get a sense of the many different aspects of American life if they pursued careers in politics.
Senator Graham also implored members of the HLS Democrats to stay interested and involved in politics at all levels of government. The HLS Dems heeded Senator Graham’s call to stay involved two days later, when they toured the Massachusetts State House and heard from Dave Friedman, the Counsel and Chief Policy Advisor to the President of the Massachusetts State Senate. Friedman, a former President of the Harvard Law Review, spoke about how to make a career combining law and public service. Never a group to focus on politics at the expense of fun, the HLS Dems followed their State House tour with a pub crawl of various political-themed bars near the State House.
Dan Geldon, a first-year student, commented on how valuable the Democrats’ first meeting with Senator Graham was, saying “Bob Graham has an extremely interesting background. I valued his perspective on the law and politics and I know a lot of 1L’s are excited for what’s in store for the rest of the semester.”
Brittny-Jade Saunders, another first-year student, expressed similar excitement about the State House tour and Pub Crawl, noting, “I was really impressed by the breadth of Dave’s experience and his candor. There are some exciting things happening in Massachusetts politics this year, and I’m eager to get involved.”
These events were the first of what the Democrats hope will be a great year at HLS. Future events will continue to feature HLS graduates and other attorneys who have made careers in the political arena.