South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday)

Murphy starts tour as she ponders challengin­g Rubio

- Orlando Sentinel

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is launching a listening tour to help Florida Democrats in 2022, part of a bid to widen her statewide profile as she considers a bid for Senate against either Marco Rubio or Rick Scott.

“I’ve been really moved over the last few months by the calls from constituen­ts and Democrats across the state asking me to consider running for the U.S. Senate,” Murphy said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “And so I am considerin­g it either in ‘22 or ‘24.”

Taking on Rubio, who was re-elected handily in 2016, would be a tough challenge due to the GOP’s increasing lock on Cuban-American voters in Miami-Dade, Rubio’s home county. Scott, though he has won all three of his races by razorthin margins, also would likely again spend his own millions in a race.

But Murphy, who defeated 24-year GOP incumbent John Mica in 2016 and was reelected in 2018 and 2020, said,

“I know what it takes to defeat a powerful Republican incumbent, because I’ve already done that. I know what it takes to build the message machine, and raise the money to be able to win in a swing district, because I’ve done that three times.”

She also criticized “career politician­s like Marco Rubio, who only look out for themselves, who’ve been there too long, and who don’t know what it’s like in the real world anymore.”

Murphy said Rubio, who originally planned to leave the Senate in 2016 in order to focus on running for president, “has used the Senate as a stepping stone for his political ambitions as opposed to serving the people of Florida. And I happen to believe that the people of Florida deserve a senator, at least one, who is more focused on what their issues are at their kitchen tables than on their next political position.”

And, she added, as someone who was born in Vietnam and is not a natural-born citizen, “I will never run for president. … Considerin­g this step is about serving my state and my country, not about the next political move for me.”

A decision by Murphy, D-Winter Park, to run for Senate would have a major effect on the congressio­nal makeup of Central Florida.

The Republican Legislatur­e will draw new district lines next year, including a new district expected to be placed in Central Florida. Whether Murphy is running for reelection could determine whether they draw a new, GOP-leaning district to avoid her or target her vacated seat as a potential pickup.

Her new listening tour, entitled, “Cast Forward with Stephanie Murphy” cites her record of winning in one of the country’s most competitiv­e districts as a path forward for Democrats in the state. Florida has long been considered an evenly split “purple” swing state but one that has elected Republican governors for 20 years and has increasing­ly become more GOP-leaning.

slemongell­o@ orlandosen­

 ??  ?? U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is launching a listening tour to help Florida Democrats in 2022.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is launching a listening tour to help Florida Democrats in 2022.

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