Race of the Day: Southerland vs. Graham in Florida

Image: Steve Southerland
U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland speaks about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on patients and doctors at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The News Herald, Andrew Wardlow)Andrew Wardlow / AP

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Editor's Note: There are just 49 days until Election Day, and the NBC News political unit each day will profile the most competitive races this midterm season.

The race in this Florida Panhandle district pits a Tea Party incumbent against the daughter of a beloved former Florida senator and governor. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) was first elected in the 2010 conservative wave, but he’s suffered a few notable gaffes since then, particularly his suggestion that his $174,000 salary isn’t “too much.” (That provided ammunition when Southerland became House Majority PAC’s first target after the government shutdown.) Democratic challenger Gwen Graham will be able to leverage the contacts and cache of her father, former Sen. Bob Graham. And she’s outraised Southerland soundly. But in a district that’s picked the Republican in the last two presidential elections by a decisive margin, she’ll have to distance herself from the unpopular president and Democrats in Congress.