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Rep. Patrick Murphy, 'Clinton Democrat,' Moves Closer to Fla. Senate Nominee

Rep. Patrick Murphy, 'Clinton Democrat,' Moves Closer to Fla. Senate Nominee

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Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:59 PM Current | Bio | Archive

If Florida Democrats nominate Rep. Patrick Murphy, they have a strong shot at grabbing Marco Rubio's soon-to-be vacated seat – and potentially wresting the Senate from Republican control.

Rubio's presidential run has masked the fact that by not running for re-election after just one-term, he has opened the door for the popular Democrat to win come November.

According to a just-completed Mason-Dixon polls among likely voters in the Democratic primary August 30, "Bill Clinton Democrat" and two-term Rep. Murphy leads arch-liberal Rep. Alan Grayson by a margin of 33 to 19 percent.

These results were similar to those found in a recent Bendixon poll, which showed Murphy leading Grayson by 27 to 19 percent among likely Democratic primary voters.

The Murphy-Grayson primary bout has attracted recent national attention.

No less a Democrat than Barack Obama endorsed Murphy's Senate candidacy recently in spite of the fact that he faces a fight for his party's nomination. His blessing was swiftly followed by an endorsement of Murphy by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Murphy, 33, is a telegenic moderate Democrat who surprised political pundits by defeating Republican firebrand Rep. Allen West in an upset race. Murphy spent about $3 million to West's $12 million, beating him a Republican district.

The national Democratic Party's unusual and early involvement in the primary battle is clear: Murphy has a better chance in the fall of putting Rubio's seat in the Republican column and thus helping Democrats take a giant step toward gaining the five seats they need to recapture control of the Senate.

"Even the liberal Public Policy Polling survey shows Grayson losing ground ," Jay O'Callaghan, veteran Florida election analyst, told Newsmax, referring to a survey where Grayson has 33 percent to 32 percent for Murphy. "Murphy has a fundraising edge as he revs up his campaign and Grayson was recently faced with a House Ethics Committee investigation."

O'Callaghan was referring to recent accusations before the Ethics Committee that Grayson improperly managed a hedge fund, did not disclose all of his finances and conducted business deals with the federal government that would be conflicts of interest for a Member of Congress. Grayson has denied any wrongdoing.

Murphy has amassed a strong war chest to beat Grayson, with $4.3 million raised to date.

The contrasts between the two Democrats are crystal clear. Murphy actually backed Republicans for most of his life and as late as 2008 was supporting Mitt Romney for president. Four years later, insisting he was disgusted with the tea party, he switched allegiance.

The Floridian has taken some stands decidedly different from the liberal mainstream in the Democratic Party. Murphy, for example, backs the Keystone Pipeline and opposed tighter regulations on for-profit universities backed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Asked if he still accepts the characterization "Bill Clinton Democrat," Murphy said: "Certainly. I am what I am — moderate on fiscal issues, progressive on social issues."

Grayson, on the other hand, is well-known for his incendiary outbursts about Republicans on the House floor and cable shows.

Grayson is one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers to back Bernie Sanders for president over Hilary Clinton.

He once called onetime opponent and present Florida Rep. Dan Webster "Taliban Dan" because of the Republican's "extreme" religious views and once sent out a mailing likening the tea party to the Ku Klux Klan (with the "T" in tea party written in the image of a burning cross).

Grayson also started a website to remember "Americans who die because they don't have health insurance."

Four Republicans — none widely known — are vying for nomination for the Senate in the August primary. The obstacle for any of the Senate hopefuls in either party is raising the funds to launch competitive media broadsides in ten major television markets.

While Florida votes solid red in presidential off-years – the governor and state house are in solid Republican hands, the state has been trending Democratic in presidential years. Obama won Florida in both 2008 and 2012.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 


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If Florida Democrats nominate Rep. Patrick Murphy, they have a strong shot at grabbing Marco Rubio's soon-to-be vacated seat - and potentially wresting the Senate from Republican control.
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Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:59 PM
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