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Florida Footwear Foofaraw

One of Grayson's "30 plus" pairs of boots. (Alexis Levinson/CQ Roll Call)
One of Grayson's "30 plus" pairs of boots. (Alexis Levinson/CQ Roll Call)

There is tension in the Florida Democratic delegation: Sen. Bill Nelson is not a fan of Rep. Alan Grayson’s boots.  

The Florida congressman has a penchant for ostentatious footwear. On Tuesday, he sported a pair of pink leather boots with crosses embroidered along the foot. They had pointed toes covered in metal caps. They were not, Grayson clarified, cowboy boots, as they had a zipper down the side. “They’re Italian boots,” he told CQ Roll Call in the Speaker’s Lobby. Nelson, apparently, does not approve.  

“The senator thinks I need to tone down the boots,” Grayson said, adding that the two have discussed his footwear “at length,” and Nelson has dispensed “some very sound sartorial advice,” that has so far gone unheeded.  

But now, Grayson is considering taking Nelson’s guidance if he decides to pursue the bid for Senate in 2016 he’s been thinking about .  

“If anybody knows how to win in Florida, it’s Sen. Nelson. And if he thinks the boots are a problem, then maybe they’re a problem,” Grayson said.  

It would be the end of a tradition for Grayson, whose embrace of flashy footwear dates back to before he was elected to Congress.  

“I prosecuted war profiteers in Iraq, so I spent a lot of time in a courtroom. A lot of time. I found that everyone had to wear either the white shirt or the blue shirt. Everyone had to wear the gray pin stripe suit or the blue pin stripe suit. And everyone had to wear the red tie or the blue tie. But, you did get to choose your shoes,” Grayson explained. “And I adopted this as a form of personal expression. It was the only thing left to me. It was the only way that I could be me in the courtroom, and that’s what I did.”  

He has since accumulated “30 plus” pairs of boots, but, he said, “it’s getting hard to find ones that fit” his size 14 feet, so he does not add to his collection as often as he would like.  

He is particularly fond of one store in South Florida, and he tries to visit every time he gets down there. The store’s website, he volunteered, is  

“You know, now that we’re on the subject, I really used to admire [Rep.] Gene Taylor, the congressman from Mississippi , because he got away with the bomber jacket,” Grayson added. “And that was going right to the limit. We’ve had people who just couldn’t get there, like, for instance [Rep.] Frederica [S. Wilson, D-Fla.] — you know, they stuck to their no hat rule and that’s to Frederica’s detriment.”  

But for now, Grayson’s feet will continue to give voice to his personality.  

“This remains a valid form of personal expression, and I stretch it to the limit,” he said. “As I often do.”  

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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