Funeral home owner says being a ‘grief expert’ qualifies him for Congress

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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He’s the owner of a funeral home in Florida, a “grief expert,” he says, whose experience dealing with the dead is a good reason why he should be in Congress.

“I’m a grief exert,” said Steve Southerland, a Republican candidate for Congress in Florida, during an interview with The Daily Caller Thursday. “I know what grief looks like. And when you close your family business for the last day, send all your employees home, when you lose your home, when you can’t send your kids to college, [that’s] grief.”

“So we know how to serve families during those dark hours,” he continued, transitioning into a spiel on how President Obama’s policies are hurting small business owners. “This is a dark hour.”

Southerland Family Funeral Home, he said, was started by his grandfather 55 years ago “with $3,000 and a hope and a dream.” He and his sister now own the Panama City business. “We’re the small family business that you hear about in America,” he said.

Southerland, running against Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd, was one of about a dozen new inductees into the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program this week for priority GOP recruitments in the House.

At a gathering Thursday, Southerland wasn’t the only “Young Gun” citing their past work experience as a good background for their congressional run.

Jon Runyan, a former offensive tackle with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers running for Congress in New Jersey, told TheDC that his background as a professional athlete prepared him well to deal with negative campaigning.

“It’s gotten a little crazy, very personal,” Runyan said of his race with Democratic Rep. John Adler. “So the nastiness is heating up, but it something I expected to happen. You deal with it on a sports level too because it’s people talking bad about you all the time. I’ve been very well trained to let stuff roll off your back.”

Other Republicans named “Young Guns” this week include:

•    Mo Brooks (AL-05)
•    Daniel Webster (FL-08)
•    Sandy Adams (FL-24)
•    Kevin Yoder (KS-03)
•    Dan Benishek (MI-01)
•    Tim Walberg (MI-07)
•    Nan Hayworth (NY-19)
•    Chris Gibson (NY-20)
•    Mike Kelly (PA-03)
•    Francisco “Quico” Canseco (TX-23)