Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

First pitch for Se­nate seat

Con­gress­man Mur­phy sells him­self as a prag­ma­tist who can work across aisle

- By An­thony Man Staff writer See POL­I­TICS, 2B

DEER­FIELD BEACH — Ap­pear­ing be­fore po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists in Broward, the most lib­eral Demo­cratic ter­ri­tory in Florida, U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Pa­trick Mur­phy pitched him­self as a prag­ma­tist who is will­ing to cross the po­lit­i­cal aisle to talk to and work with Repub­li­cans.

“Florid­i­ans, along with Amer­i­cans in gen­eral, are tired of the hy­per-par­ti­san­ship that they see in Wash­ing­ton. They want re­sults and they de­serve re­sults. There are so many things we should be fight­ing for in­stead of fight­ing against,” Mur­phy said Sun­day. “Amer­ica needs a longterm vi­sion. But it’s go­ing to re­quire that we put the par­ti­san­ship aside and get the job done.

Mur­phy That’s just not hap­pen­ing in the U.S. Se­nate right now.”

He said his guiding mo­ti­va­tion for ev­ery­thing he does is what’s best for his state. “I’ll work with any­one — if it’s right for Florida.”

The as­sem­bled Democrats — ea­ger to cap­ture the state’s Repub­li­can-held U.S. Se­nate seat as part of their hope to wrest back con­trol of the U.S. Se­nate — liked what they heard. “Not all Democrats are su­per lib­er­als,” said Bernie Par­ness, pres­i­dent of the Deer­field Beach Demo­cratic Club, where Mur­phy spoke at a lun­cheon that in­cluded about 90 party ac­tivists, can­di­dates, po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tants and elected of­fi­cials.

Mur­phy spent much of his 16-minute speech in­tro­duc­ing him­self. Though he’s a mem­ber of Congress, Mur­phy, 32, is rel­a­tively new in the po­lit­i­cal world.

In his sec­ond term in the U.S. House rep­re­sent­ing north­ern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lu­cie coun­ties, he’s best known for how he got there — by de­feat­ing tea party Con­gress­man Allen West’s bid for a sec­ond term in 2012 — and for avoid­ing any­thing that could make him seem like a stereo­typ­i­cal lib­eral Demo­crat.

He said he was mo­ti­vated to get into pol­i­tics be­cause he was tired of the ran­cor in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and hor­ri­fied by West.

Since he took of­fice in 2013, Mur­phy’s bro­ken from his party and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama so much that he was one of only four Democrats en­dorsed in 2014 by the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, which al­most al­ways sup­ports Repub­li­cans.

On Sun­day, Mur­phy praised the pres­i­dent. De­scrib­ing de­creas­ing fed­eral bud­get deficits, the hous­ing re­cov­ery and an in­crease in op­ti­mism, he said, “You bet­ter be­lieve that the pres­i­dent de­serves a lot of credit for this.”

He also high­lighted his sup­port for in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage, pre­serv­ing abor­tion rights and legal same-sex mar­riage.

The strong­est ap­plause of the af­ter­noon may have been when he told the crowd to “make sure that Hil­lary Clin­ton is the next pres­i­dent of the United States.”

Mur­phy didn’t of­fer a pol­icy agenda, but that wasn’t his mission on Sun­day, said Mitch Ceasar, chair­man of the Broward Demo­cratic Party. Mur­phy needed to in­tro­duce him­self to those who don’t know him well, and come across as some­one who can win, Ceasar said.

The Se­nate seat is cur­rently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla., who is seek­ing the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion and for­go­ing an at­tempt to seek a sec­ond term next year.

So far, Mur­phy is the only de­clared can­di­date. A long list of high-pro­file Democrats and Repub­li­cans have taken them­selves out of the run­ning.

Still, the Se­nate cam­paign is in its in­fancy. Of­fi­cially can­di­dates don’t qual­ify to get on the bal­lot for an­other year, the pri­mary is al­most 16 months away, and the gen­eral elec­tion isn’t for an­other 18 months.

Mur­phy has endorsemen­ts from U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel, who rep­re­sent parts of Broward and Palm Beach coun­ties, and last week was en­dorsed by 15 of the 24 Demo­cratic state leg­is­la­tors from the two coun- ties. On Sun­day, the din­ning room at the Deer Creek Golf Club was set up with Mur­phy signs on al­most ev­ery chair and sev­eral peo­ple — in­clud­ing Palm Beach County State Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee­woman Bunny Stein­man — wore Mur­phy stick­ers.

That could in­di­cate dif­fi­culty for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the lib­eral fire­brand from Or­lando who’s con­sid­er­ing en­ter­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary. Cyn­thia Busch, vice chair­woman of the Broward Demo­cratic Party, said she hasn’t en­dorsed a can­di­date, but Democrats need to make sure they have a can­di­date who can win, not some­one “just try­ing to present them­selves as the bet­ter Demo­crat.”

Mur­phy has been crit­i­cized by some in the party’s lib­eral wing who think his more con­ser­va­tive lean­ings mean the Demo­cratic base won’t be ex­cited if he wins the nom­i­na­tion. And some re­gard him as in­suf­fi­ciently vig­i­lant on the Demo­cratic goal of pro­tect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity from any changes. Mur­phy on Sun­day de­scribed him­self as some­one who sup­ports “shor­ing up” So­cial Se­cu­rity and who is work­ing to “pro­tect” Medi­care.

Par­ness, who is also head of the Florida Demo­cratic Party’s Se­nior Cau­cus, said Mur­phy needs to be judged in his en­tirety.

“No­body is go­ing to mir­ror ev­ery item you love,” Par­ness said. Over­all, does he have you or your in­ter­ests in mind? If the an­swer is yes, you sup­port him. If you don’t talk and you don’t com­pro­mise, noth­ing gets done.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA