Patrick Murphy Archives - Florida Politics

David Jolly and Patrick Murphy taking their tour national

Jolly & Murphy are taking their “Why Gridlock Rules Washington” show national, with upcoming gigs booked at Harvard University and in Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

The duo, made up of Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Belleair Bluffs and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, has been touring Florida universities and town halls for a few months now, offering biting looks at how hyper-partisan politics from both of their parties have gotten in the way of governing, and their hopeful views for why and how that should be overcome.

Next Thursday the duo will be appearing at Harvard University in Massachusetts, hosted by the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Harvard Institute of Politics.

In April they’ve got appearances set at Tufts University in Massachusetts and Florida House on Capitol Hill in D.C. In May they’ll be at the University of Chicago, in an event moderated by David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama‘s presidential campaigns.

They’ve also got several more appearances set in Florida in coming weeks, and more national gigs being discussed.

Murphy is the one with the mischievous heart-throb looks and the romantic optimism. Jolly is the one with the rugged bad-boy looks and the rebellious reputation. When it comes to singing hyper-partisan politics blues, or political kumbaya love songs, they harmonize.

“Despite the frustrations with Washington, we believe there are solutions to the gridlock and are excited to pull back the curtain for more people across the country to get involved in our democracy!” Murphy stated in a news release. “We’re grateful for anyone willing to have an open dialogue about fixing D.C. and honored that these schools and groups have opened their doors to us.”

“The response to our town halls has been overwhelming and I think that speaks to the desire by people to see Republicans and Democrats work together, not against each other, to solve our biggest issues,” Jolly added.

Marco Rubio upside down in new Q poll, especially with Hispanics

Marco Rubio had a rough night last week in Sunrise, where he faced a lion’s den of hostile voters during a CNN live town-hall meeting featuring family members and friends of the victims of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland the week before.

Rubio apparently isn’t too popular with the rest of the state either, as a new Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday shows that only 38 percent of Floridians surveyed currently support the Republican lawmaker, with 55 percent opposing him. Nine percent did not have an opinion.

The survey of 1,156 Florida voters was conducted Friday, Feb. 23-Monday, Feb. 26, days after Rubio took a verbal beating from angry Broward County residents, some of whom accused him of being a sell-out to the National Rifle Association.

When pressed by Cameron Kasky, a student who survived the shooting at Douglas High, Rubio declined on multiple occasions to say whether he would accept future contributions.

Instead, he insisted over the booing and groaning in the crowd that he does not buy into the agendas of outside organizations and that they instead have to support his.

Rubio notably did say that he was open to reconsidering his position on the size of magazine clips, a chief policy prescription that gun control advocates favor.

He also said that he believes that nobody under the age of 21 should be able to buy a gun, and broke with other Republicans in saying that he did not believe that teachers should be armed.

Rubio, a Cuban-American, is not faring well with Hispanic voters either in the new survey. Only 27 percent of those polled support him, while 66 percent say they disapprove of his performance.

Rubio was re-elected to the Senate in November 2016, defeating Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, 52 percent-44 percent.

David Jolly: Assault weapon license should be as hard to get as White House security clearance

David Jolly says he’s not sure that a ban on assault weapons is possible in Washington, but believes a solution that could happen immediately is to make them “functionally obsolete” for the average citizen.

“Make the requirements to get an assault weapon as hard as it is to get a security clearance in this White House,” the former Republican congressman quipped to laughs while addressing the Cafe Con Tampa crowd at the Oxford Exchange Friday morning.

“That would be a yearlong process,” he said, turning serious to say that it would allow authorities to get as much information about a person’s background as possible, including serious training and storage requirements that he thinks would only allow the most trained sportsman or woman to handle.

Like many Republicans, he also says that enforcing current laws on the books to a greater extent would also work, or as he says, “Enforce the gun laws as strictly as Donald Trump wants to enforce the immigration laws.”

Though not a card-carrying NRA member, Jolly did receive $9,600 in contributions from the gun rights organization in his special election against Democrat Alex Sink in 2014 and was the beneficiary of the group spending more than $100,000 against Sink in that same campaign.

He said the current background check process is relatively toothless, consisting of a criminal conviction check and little else. People’s mental health history, including counseling, is currently not part of such a check.

And with all that has been learned about Parkland confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, Jolly said it should be.

Universal and comprehensive background checks should include every transaction involved with a gun, Jolly said, so if somebody wants to sell it to a family member, it should be done at the local sheriff’s department.

Jolly said he’s now “evolved” to the point where he believes such medical background history needs to be included in such a background check.

Joining the Indian Shores Republican in the discussion was former Treasure Coast Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who called guns like the AR-15 “weapons of war” designed to kill human beings, and said they need to go away.

Cruz used an AR-15 to kill 17 people last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week.

“If you need 50 rounds to kill a deer, you need a new sport. Bottom line,” he said.

Murphy said in the current climate in Washington (controlled by Republicans in both the House and Senate)  banning assault weapons isn’t a viable possibility, but says it should be the ultimate goal.

Eliminating bump stocks, addressing mental health and reinforcing school safety are “baby steps” that Murphy believes are possible to achieve now.

A joint appearance by two moderate former members of Congress (who collectively only spent six and a half years in Washington) was part of their traveling road show on ways to get Washington working better, a tour they are holding across the state and other parts of the country since the fall.

To their credit, Jolly and Murphy aren’t preaching to the crowd that they need to be as moderate politically as they are, but that it’s essential to find common ground to fix the problems that our political system is supposed to do but has been breaking down over the past few decades into increased partisan rancor.

Jolly attributes the beginning of the fissure was the mid-1990s when Newt Gingrich led the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. However, he also insists that Democrats were poised to do the same thing if they were in charge (which they were for decades in the U.S. House before 1994).

“Newt Gingrich realized not only did we take control of the House of Representatives, we’re now going to demand that K Street give us all their money that they’ve been giving to Democrats,” he said, “and then we’re going to go around the country and set up these funds to push lobbyists money into the states, so we can take over our state legislatures, and start to redistrict, start to close primaries, and put a chokehold that ensures that Republicans have a structural advantage for the next couple of decades.”

“And that’s what they did.”

After losing a re-election bid after redistricting in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in 2016 to Charlie Crist, Jolly has become omnipresent on CNN and MSNBC as one of the most outspoken Republican critics to President Trump. Although he’s said as recently as a month ago that he was still considering a run for office in 2018, he all but admitted on Friday that’s increasingly unlikely.

“Not only am I candidate without a party, I’m a candidate without a donor base.”

He did add that he is already involved with efforts to help out a Republican primary presidential challenge to Trump in 2020, having recently met with Republicans in both Iowa and Washington D.C.

Murphy said the teenagers who were directly affected by the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School and have been protesting this week about gun violence give him great hope.

“It’s powerful for our country,” he said.

Murphy concluded: “To get involved, to knock on doors, to get out there to vote, or at least get others to vote. That’s a powerful thing. Politicians, by and large, will care more about that than the money, or anything else, if they see that as a sustaining movement, it can’t be one week, two weeks and done.

“This has to continue for months, and unfortunately probably years to be effective, but with the passion that I see, I am optimistic that this can be a generation that does lead to results.”

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy want change to political status quo

Frustration over the American political process has brought together strange bedfellows: two former Florida congressmen of competing parties.

David Jolly, a Republican, and Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, left office in 2017. They’ve since embarked on a tour, titled “Why Gridlock Rules Washington,” to share their less-than-ideal experiences in the nation’s capital.

And the duo doesn’t hold back. According to shared accounts from both Jolly and Murphy, their time in Congress was marred by partisan politics and an inability to get lawmakers to cooperate.

Jolly told listeners at a tour stop Tuesday night at Florida State University that he arrived in Washington with a plan to tackle problems — only to be encountered with a “reality” where bipartisanship, cooperation and compromise were seen as pitfalls for incumbents seeking reelection.

Like Jolly, Murphy said he came to Congress thinking he was going to “change the world.”

He shared a quick anecdote that proved to him otherwise.

Murphy said an early initiative of his to eliminate several special projects in the budget didn’t get the bipartisan support that was promised. The would-be Republican sponsor’s reelection would’ve been negatively targeted by leadership who did not want to see bipartisan success in the chamber, Murphy said.

Murphy said Democratic leadership does the same thing in tit-for-tat fashion.

The talk went on with the lawmakers outlining the problems they believe are directly linked to, even responsible for, gridlock in D.C. Those problems include gerrymandering, closed primaries, an overemphasis on campaign finance and the mainstream media habit of rewarding polarizing politicians with airtime.

Jolly and Murphy outlined potential fixes for the issues, too. Nearly all involved far-reaching changes that would alter the status quo — but the two hinted that their proposed solutions are more practical given the current national political climate.

And they might be right. Jolly said the turnout on the college circuit has been great — especially given the subject material being discussed.

“It’s not like we’re talking about really salacious things,” Jolly said. “We’re talking about gerrymandering and open primaries — this isn’t ‘Fire and Fury.’”

At least one of the solutions discussed by Jolly and Murphy had some steam in the state earlier this year.

The Constitution Revision Commission was considering a proposal that would’ve opened the state’s primaries to all voters. It was later amended to provide for advancing the top two candidates, regardless of their party affiliations, to the general ballot.

However, a committee within the CRC killed the proposal unanimously earlier this month. Currently, voters can only vote for primary candidates within their respective registered parties.

Jolly spoke in depth about opening the state’s primary election system. He said he “journeyed politically” to his stance now.

“I’m willing to say let’s open up primaries to allow candidates to compete for broader constituencies,” Jolly said.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Jolly and Murphy also discussed their time together in Congress. Jolly said he’d work on bills with Murphy, but that collaboration often was stifled by party leadership.

Jolly said the lack of a DACA fix in Washington is a “good example” of how structural issues dominate policy in Congress. He said moderate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle cannot afford compromise on the issue if they intend to be reelected.

“The problem is if the two parties actually compromised on [DACA], at least in years past, they would all be primaried back home,” Jolly said.

Jolly and Murphy also were asked if they intend to run for office in the near future.

Murphy has said he won’t run for his old seat against incumbent Republican Brian Mast this year.

But on Tuesday Murphy added, “I’d be surprised if either one of us didn’t end up on the ballot at some point.” He said their interest in the state of Florida, as evidenced by the tour, could result in one of them running for office to represent the state again.

As for Jolly, who would for his old seat have to square off against incumbent Charlie Crist, “it’s going to go all the way to the filing deadline.”

Major conservative PAC backs Carlos Curbelo, Brian Mast

Conservative political committee Maverick PAC is backing Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast this election cycle, both could face hard-fought re-election battles in the fall.

Maverick PAC, or MavPAC for short, focuses on getting young professionals engaged in the political process. It got started in the 2004 cycle and became known for hosting inexpensive fundraisers aimed at giving younger people access to politicians and top political operators. During the 2016 cycle, Maverick PAC raised over $3.5 million for federal candidates.

The political committee said it’s “unique” in that its membership nominates and votes on which candidates will get the PAC’s support come election time.

Curbelo, Mast and another 44 candidates are on the MavPAC roster, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, whose current term runs through 2022. The PAC in the past named Curbelo, a former member, one of its “Future 40.”

Curbelo represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which was one of just 23 House seats nationwide — and one of two in Florida — to vote in favor of Hillary Clinton for president while also sending a Republican to Congress. Clinton won the district by 16 points, while Curbelo beat former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia 53-41.

In 2018, four Democrats are vying to knock Curbelo out of his South Florida seat: Ricky Junquera, Steven Machat, Steve Smith and current primary race front-runner Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who had $162,000 cash on hand at the end of the third quarter compared to $1.3 million for Curbelo.

Mast represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He was first elected in 2016, beating out Democrat Randy Perkins 53-43 on Election Day. Democrat Patrick Murphy held the seat for the two terms prior, but gave it up to run for U.S. Senate against Rubio.

So far, two Democrats have filed to run against Mast in 2018: Lauren Baer and Pam Keith. Carla Spalding is also running as an independent. Baer leads the pack with $236,000 in her campaign account as of the end of the third quarter, while Keith has $64,000 on hand. Mast had $921,000 in the bank through the same date.

Baer and Keith got some encouraging news last month when a poll from left-leaning PPP found him winning by just one point, 45-44, against a generic Democrat. The survey also found him underwater on favorability, 40-45, and that his constituents were against the Republican tax plan he voted for 51-35.

New poll shows Brian Mast trailing hypothetical Democrat in 2018

A new poll found freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is on thin ice with voters in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, especially after his vote in favor of the GOP’s tax reform plan.

A survey from the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling found Mast had a 40 percent approval rating and 45 percent disapproval rating in the district, which puts his net favorability only a few points ahead of President Donald Trump, who garnered a 45 percent approval rating and 53 percent disapproval among CD 18 respondents.

PPP also pitted Mast against a generic Democrat in the poll and found him leading by a point, 45-44. Just over half of voters said they were less likely to vote for Mast due to his tax reform vote, which is underwater 51-35 in the district, and Mast’s slim lead dissipated once voters were told more information about the bill.

Phone surveyors told respondents that the tax bill would eliminate state and local tax deductions as well as the estate tax, which only applies to individuals with estates valued at more than $5.5 million or couples with estates worth more than $11 million. Respondents were also told the bill would add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

With that information in hand, a hypothetical “Democratic opponent” saw a 3-point jump to take a 47-45 lead over the incumbent Republican.

The survey results likely gave some encouragement to the two Democrats running against Mast: Lauren Baer and Pam Keith.

Both candidates carry less baggage than 2016’s Democratic nominee, Randy Perkins, who faced questions about how he made his money throughout the race, including allegations that he overcharged school districts for debris removal.

Baer, a former U.S. State Department official under President Barack Obama, leads her primary rival with $250,000 raised through the end of the third quarter and had about $236,000 on hand. She has also picked up an endorsement from the Victory Fund gay rights advocacy group and, if elected, would be the Sunshine State’s first openly gay member of congress.

Keith, lost her bid for U.S. Senate in 2016, had raised $150,000 for her campaign through the end of September and had just under $64,000 in the bank. The Navy veteran and labor lawyer from Palm Beach Gardens picked up an endorsement from VoteVets, a progressive-politics organization dedicated to getting military veterans elected to public office.

Both Democrats trail Mast, also a military veteran. He has raised $1.58 million and has about $921,000 on hand, with no Republican Primary challenger in sight.

Despite the money advantage, the district will be a big priority for Democrats in 2018.

The district, which covers St. Lucie and Martin counties as well as the northeastern Palm Beach County, was held by Democrat Patrick Murphy for two terms before he decided to forego a re-election run for U.S. Senate, losing mightily to Marco Rubio on Election Day.

PPP surveyed 567 CD 18 voters via automated telephone interviews on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Lantana Democrat Lori Berman

Lori Berman adds 31 local endorsements for SD 31 campaign

Democratic Rep. Lori Berman announced 31 endorsements for Senate District 31 special election bid Thursday, all of whom are current or former elected officials within the boundaries of the Palm Beach County district.

County level officials announced in the bulk endorsement included Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Vice Mayor Mack Bernard and County Commissioners Mary Lou Berger and Paulette Burdick, Tax Collector Anne Gannon, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock, and School Board Members Marcia Andrews, Karen Brill, and Erica Whitfield.

“Lori is a tireless advocate for her constituents and a leader on behalf of Palm Beach County in the legislature,” Bernard said. “That is why I am endorsing Lori and look forward to working with her when she is in the Senate on behalf of Palm Beach County.”

Berman also picked up support from city officials in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Greenacres, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, South Palm Beach, Wellington and – of course – Lantana, where she lives.

“I am excited by the outpouring of support from so many of Palm Beach County’s mayors, commissioners, and councilmembers. In the legislature I have always fought for Palm Beach County, from successfully sponsoring legislation to build the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for spring training for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros to helping secure funding for Palm Beach State College’s 5th campus,” Berman said.

“As a member of the Senate, I will work hand in hand with our local leaders so that Palm Beach County is a place where our kids can raise a family with exceptional public schools, good paying jobs, access to quality healthcare, and a pristine local environment.”

Berman faces Arthur Morrison in a Jan. 30 special primary for the seat, and the winner will move on to an April 10 special general election against Republican Tami Donnally. The winner of the special election will serve until Election Day 2020.

SD 31 opened up back in October when Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens abruptly resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Berman’s Thursday release marks her second wave of endorsements. In late November she announced more than two dozen endorsements from other Democratic state lawmakers as well as U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and former congressman Patrick Murphy.

She also picked up an endorsement from former Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg this week. Slosberg lost to Clemens in the 2016 primary for SD 31 and was briefly a candidate in the special election before he stepped aside in favor of Berman.

“You know, Lori and I were always good friends; she was always on the side of road safety,” he said. “She was right by my side. I think she’s going to make a great senator.”

The SD 31 and HD 114 special elections are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by Florida Democrats pushing for earlier election dates in order for lawmakers representing the districts to be in place for at least part of the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 9 and ends March 9.

A motion filed in that suit to move up the special election dates will be heard in Leon County circuit court Thursday.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy to meet again at USF St. Pete

Former Florida Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy resume their fall college speaking tour in St. Petersburg.

The tour — called “Why Gridlock Rules Washington” — continues Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. on the 2nd floor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Center. It will be televised live in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando markets.

Over the past couple of months, Jolly and Murphy have been holding public discussions about the state of chaos in Washington D.C., and what can be done to fix politics.

The one-hour event will be broadcast on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay and Bay News 13 in Orlando, and will be moderated by Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory.

The two former lawmakers appeared on the USF Tampa campus last month, where Jolly repeated his comments from a year ago that part of the job as a member of Congress is to spend 20-30 hours a week raising money, and only 10 hours a week doing their actual jobs.

“I truly was taken aback by the fact that consumes every single minute,” the Pinellas Republican said. “If any member tells you that they spend more time on policy than fundraising, they’re lying.”

Attendees are asked to arrive at the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the University Student Center by 6:45 p.m. on December 5th. Those interested in attending must RSVP through Eventbrite.

Darryl Paulson: Republican prospects in the 2018 Florida congressional campaign

Republicans have controlled the Florida congressional districts for almost three decades.

During that time, the size of the Florida congressional delegation has jumped from 23 in 1990 to 25 in 2000, and 27 in 2010. Projections have Florida adding two more seats after the 2020 census, growing the delegation to 29 seats in the House of Representatives.

Only California and Texas have larger delegations.

Currently, Republicans hold 16 of the 27 congressional seats, meaning Democrats need to flip three seats to take control of the delegation. How likely is that to happen?

That’s the topic of Paulson’s Politics for next week.

Three decades of Republican control of the delegation is testimony to the party’s ability to attract quality candidates and to provide them with the organizational and financial support essential for victory.

Is Republican dominance of the delegation over?

At one point, there were as many as seven more Republicans than Democrats in the Florida delegation. Democrats had hoped that a judicial redraw of the congressional district lines in 2016, due to a League of Women Voters challenge to the legislature’s redistricting plan that they believed violated the Fair District Amendment, would allow Democrats to pick up a number of congressional seats. In the end, Democrats picked up one seat, reducing the Republican advantage to 16 to 11.

Floridians elected eight new members to the Florida delegation in 2016, the highest turnover rate of any state with at least eight members. Typically, 90 percent of House members win re-election.

Three incumbent Republicans retired and were replaced by three new Republicans. Two Republicans lost to Democrats and another Republican, Daniel Webster, moved from District 10 to 11 after his District was redrawn and made heavily Democratic. Republicans picked up two seats that had been held by a Democrat. Gwen Graham decided not to seek re-election after her District 2 seat was redrawn to favor Republicans, and Patrick Murphy abandoned his House seat to run unsuccessfully for the U. S. Senate. Republican Neal Dunn won the Graham seat and Brian Mast won the Murphy seat. The net result was a one seat gain by Democrats.

One Republican strength has been that Republican voters have been more motivated than Democrats to turn out on Election Day, especially in midterms. Democratic advantages in voter registration numbers have been diminished by Republican advantage in voter turnout.

A recent Washington Post/ABC Poll indicates that the Republican edge in motivation will not be there in the 2018 midterms. An identical percentage of Republican and Democratic voters, 63 percent, indicated that they are certain to vote in 2018. That number may change by Election Day, but it has to be a concern for Republicans.

Republicans in Florida have been advantaged over the past three decades due to their organizational strength and their ability to finally support their candidates. This is no longer the case.

Democrats, who have had a long history of forming a circular firing squad and executing their own members, finally seem to have their act together. It is now the Republicans who are divided. When Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked candidate to lead the party was defeated by state legislator Blaise Ingoglia, Scott told Republicans not to contribute to the party, but instead to his own Let’s Get to Work PAC.

The flow of money to the Florida Republican Party has slowed to a trickle, making it difficult to support more than a small number of candidates. During the first six months of 2017, the Florida Democratic Party raised $3.5 million compared to only $2.4 million for the Republicans. This is, and will be, a major problem for the Republican Party and their candidates heading into 2018.

NEXT WEEK:  An analysis of the 2018 congressional races. Will it be status quo, or will Florida experience a political tsunami?

Though decrying gridlock, David Jolly would like to see Democrats stop Donald Trump

Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly doubled down Tuesday evening on his expressed wish that Democrats win the 2018 mid-term elections as a check on President Donald Trump, saying he hoped that so that “we may be safer as a nation.”

Jolly appeared Wednesday evening at the University of Central Florida in Orlando with Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy on their college-campus tour to talk about their concerns about how hyper-partisanship has caused gridlock, and forced both parties to kowtow to extremes within their ranks.

Yet Jolly, the St. Petersburg politician who served two terms and then chose to run an eventually-aborted campaign for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination last year instead of for re-election, expressed great frustration Monday night on MSNBC with his party’s unwillingness to stand up to Trump.

After the UCF forum Tuesday evening, he repeated that contention and his desire to see Democrats take over the U.S. House of Representatives for the last two years of Trump’s term. He told that he views Trump as unsteady and a national security concern, and is worried that his party cannot check him.

“I’ve struggled with it as we continue to hear stories around the national security implications around the president’s irascibility and volatility,” Jolly said. “Certainly we know some of the Constitutional issues that have been raised from ethics to Russia. We also know that he is an unsteady hand as commander in chief.

“And we’ve seen Republicans largely unwilling to stand up to him,” Jolly continued. “Listen, I’m a Republican, who hopes we see a Republican Congress pass Republican policies. But it may be for the greater good that there is a stronger check on Capitol Hill on this president than the Republicans are currently providing. So if it meant Democrats take control of the House for two years, and the president not being in office come January 2021, then we may be safer as a nation in my opinion.

“This may be bigger than the party,” Jolly concluded.

The matter did not come up during the 75-minute forum, in which Murphy and Jolly expressed their concerns about how gerrymandering had created too many safe seats, and how the party leadership in Congress was valuing power over any bipartisan relationships, discouraging members in any contested seats from building relationships with those across the aisle.

Murphy said gerrymandering was the biggest single problem. Yet he also decried the closed-primary system in Florida and other states that use it, noting that voter turnout in a primary average is 15 percent. That 15 percent, he argued, likely represents the most extreme wing of the party; and becomes the deciding force in any district predetermined to be a safe seat for one party or the other. And he contended 90 percent of seats are so predetermined.

“So imagine you’re a member of Congress. Imagine your a candidate. Are you going to appeal to that 85 percent [who don’t vote in the primary] or that 15 percent? Murphy said. “You’re going to tailor a message to them. You’re going to make sure they see ads.And you’re going to get to office. And then you’re going to say the same thing, even if it’s against your own self interest.

“We both know friends on both sides of the aisle that are standing for things they don’t truly believe in,” Murphy said.

Both Murphy and Jolly talked about how leaderships punish members who work across the aisle. Murphy said it starts from the very first week a freshman member of Congress arrives, and is segregated from freshmen from the other party, and then is told to not get chummy with those in the other party, because the goal is to see them defeated in the next election. Murphy and Jolly said both sides do it, threatening to not provide re-election money, or threatening to take away valuable committee seats.

“We can’t can’t take human nature out of this,” Jolly said. “It requires a certain amount of political courage to step forward to say I’m going to be one of those people who decide to change it.”

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