Florida’s Democrats Tuesday picked U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s youth, moderate politics and well-oiled campaign machine to battle with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat this fall.
Murphy, 33, of Palm Beach Gardens, crushed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and lawyer Pam Keith of Miami in what had been a cutthroat primary campaign battle, preparing the winner for what likely will be another cutthroat general election battle this fall.
Early returns showed Murphy with an insurmountable lead, drawing 59 percent of the Democratic vote, while Grayson was receiving 17 percent and Keith 15 percent.
Rubio was easily defeating Bradenton businessman Carlos Beruff for the Republican nomination.
“I am honored to earn the Democratic nomination to be Florida’s next U.S. Senator,” Murphy said. “Over the past year, I have met and listened to so many hardworking families from across our state. They deserve a senator who values hard work, and who will always put them first. Together, I know that we can strengthen our middle class, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, pass meaningful legislation to curb gun violence, and defend a woman’s right to choose.
“For the past six years, Marco Rubio has put himself first, failing to show up for his job except when it benefits his special interest campaign donors,” he continued. Sen. Rubio put his personal ambition ahead of Florida’s middle class, earning the worst vote attendance record for a Florida senator in nearly 50 years. Floridians are ready for a senator who puts them first, and we’re going to make that a reality this November.”
Murphy is a two-term congressman who had already proven he could run an all-out campaign when he defeated conservative Republican icon U.S. Rep. Allen West for his House seat in 2012.
He brings the kind of moderate record and calm demeanor to the campaign that harkens to the only other Democrats who’ve succeeded in recent decades, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.
Grayson had challenged that moderation as a weakness, and all along sought to depict the battle as a true progressive Democrat — himself — versus a Democrat of questionable Democratic values —Murphy. But in the end the contest was not about that. It was, as Murphy’s campaign had long expected, a contrast between someone who is Alan Grayson, and someone who isn’t.
Grayson’s campaign was barely seaworthy, having shed numerous top staffers over the past year and underperformed in fundraising and ground troops, and it could not survive Grayson’s own past or the barrage of Grayson criticisms shot its way by Murphy’s campaign. One final shot in late July, revelations alleging domestic violence, sank Grayson.
Keith was never a serious factor, lost in Grayson’s progressive-champion shadow and shut out by Murphy’s almost complete accumulation of mainline party support. Yet she picked up some surprising late support, including an endorsement from the Miami Herald, and nearly caught Grayson for second in the voting.