In 1977, state legislator and relatively unknown gubernatorial candidate, Bob Graham, created campaign publicity by undertaking a series of 100 "workdays." Graham announced he would experience the lives of ordinary Floridians firsthand by working their jobs. Although the model for this innovative strategy was Lawton Chiles' walk across the state during his successful 1970 campaign for the US Senate, the initial idea for a workday was not Graham's.

In 1974, during a committee meeting, Graham began complaining at the poor level of the civic awareness of Florida's students. A frustrated high school teacher, Sue Reilly, dared the young legislator to teach a class himself for one day. He agreed, thinking it would never happen. But Reilly set up for him to teach after Labor Day at Carol City High School in Miami Lakes, Graham's hometown. Publicly committed, Graham taught the class. In 1977, Graham would count the teaching stint as his first workday.

Florida State Senator Bob Graham during work day as a bellhop: Orlando, Florida (1977)
Florida State Senator Bob Graham during work day as a bellhop: Orlando, Florida (1977)

Image Number: N047595

Photographed on July 15, 1977.

State Senator Bob Graham during workday as a "Pooper scooper" for Ocala Breeders Sales: Ocala, Florida (1977)

Image Number: N048733

Photographed on October 9, 1977.

Florida Senator Bob Graham pushing speaker wire into a drop ceiling (1977)

Image Number: PT00712

Florida Senator Bob Graham pushes speaker wire into the drop ceiling of the Governor's office section at the new capitol building.

Photographed on October 10, 1977.

Throughout 1977 and 1978, Graham worked all sorts of jobs from lobster fisher, mullet gutter, shrimper, and dive boat operator to short order cook, bellhop, social worker, and plumber. He even spent a night riding with the Tallahassee Police Department, which included the discovery and investigation of a near-fatal shooting. He also spent two days as a temporary worker, including applying for food stamps. His final job before the 1978 election was as a housewife.

State Senator Bob Graham during workday as a tomato picker for Six L's Farms: Naples, Florida (1977)

Image Number: N048735

Photographed on November 28, 1977.

State Senator Bob Graham during workday as a waiter at the Wine Cellar: Jacksonville, Florida (1977)

Image Number: N048737

Photographed on December 15, 1977.

State Senator Bob Graham working as Santa Claus at Clark LaSalle Cleaners: Coral Gables, Florida (1977)

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Photographed on December 20, 1977.

The experience converted Graham from a candidate with zero name recognition (and few supporters) to Florida's next governor. Other gubernatorial candidates in 1978 included such well-known politicians as Secretary of State Bruce Smathers, former governor Claude Kirk, and Jacksonville mayor Hanz Tazler. In the process, it also transformed the self-proclaimed introvert to an avid conversationalist. Finally, the workdays gave him insight into the lives of working people, as well as valuable political ammunition during his first gubernatorial and later campaigns. In 1978, Graham published Workdays, an account of his experiences.

State Senator Bob Graham during workday as a factory worker at the Shepard Truss Company: Bradenton, Florida (1978)

Image Number: N048739

Photographed on February 11, 1978.

Bob Graham during work day as a pit crew member: Sebring, Florida (1978)

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Photographed on March 18, 1978.

State Senator Bob Graham during workday as a ring announcer at the Tampa Convention Center: Tampa, Florida (1978)

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Photographed on August 10, 1978.

State Senator Bob Graham working road construction with Triple R Paving during workday: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1978)

Image Number: N048742

Photographed on September 6, 1978.

Governor Bob Graham sealing packages of paper napkins (1979)

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Workday at Hudson Paper Company.

Bob Graham during work day as a barber (1979)

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Of course, the workdays made for good television and garnered ample newspaper coverage as well. Graham followed a couple of rules in order to stay legitimate in the eyes of voters. He worked the entire shift. He only allowed the press to be present for a part of that shift. And he did all aspects of the job. After winning the election, Graham kept up the workdays throughout his terms as governor and US Senator and during his brief presidential candidacy in 2003. He has worked 921 jobs in over 109 cities and five states.

Governor Bob Graham and an aide collecting trash: Tallahassee, Florida (1979)

Image Number: PR10787

Volunteers, including Governor Bob Graham (right) with collected trash from lake bed after the draw down.