Patrick Murphy – Florida Politics

Lauren Baer tops $1M banked for CD 18 campaign, Brian Mast nears $2M

Democratic candidate Lauren Baer has cleared seven figures in the bank for her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

Baer’s campaign said it will report more than $500,000 raised in its second-quarter campaign finance report and show more than $1 million in the bank, an increase of $300,000 over her reserves at the end of the first quarter.

The performance also bests her $450,000 report for Q1 and makes for more than $1.5 million in campaign funds raised to-date.

“I’m in awe of the outpouring of support we have received since launching our campaign in September,” Baer said. “Thank you to everyone who has donated, knocked on doors, made phone calls, and registered voters. This campaign will always be about you and your interests, not special interests, and together we will be victorious in November.”

The former senior official in the Obama administration added that the new cash was raised without taking a dime from corporate PACs. She pledged to decline such contributions in February.

Baer faces former Navy JAG Pam Keith in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for CD 18, which covers all of St. Lucie and Martin counties as well as northeastern Palm Beach County, including Tequesta, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and part of West Palm Beach.

Keith has not yet announced her second-quarter fundraising numbers, though she had raised $358,500 through the end of March with $50,000 in the bank.

Mast, who is only nominally opposed in the Republican primary, also announced Tuesday that he’d hit a high watermark in the second-quarter with more than $1 million raised.

“Congressman Mast’s laser-like focus on the issues that matter most to our community — water quality, protecting Medicare, lower taxes and supporting veterans — are driving incredibly strong grassroots support. While other candidates have been forced to choose hyper-partisanship in pursuit of Nancy Pelosi’s support, Congressman Mast’s independence and leadership continue to deliver results for our community,” said campaign spokesman Brad Stewart.

The announcement indicated Mast had nearly $2 million in the bank at the end of June, a major increase from his $1.5 million on-hand tally at the end of the first quarter.

CD 18 is a top target for a “blue-wave” flip in the fall, with only CD 26 and CD 27 outranking it on Florida Democrat’s priority list.

Though the district voted plus-9 for Donald Trump in 2016, it was held by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy for two terms before he gave it up to run for U.S. Senate last cycle. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s “Crystal Ball” currently lists CD 18 as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham raises more than $1M in May

Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign said over the weekend that new campaign finance reports will show another banner month for the former congresswoman’s fundraising efforts.

The Graham team said it added more than $300,000 in contributions for the campaign and tacked on another $730,000-plus via Gwen Graham for Florida, an affiliated political committee.

The seven-figure haul, her second in a row, brings the North Florida Democrat’s total fundraising to nearly $8.5 million. The campaign said it started June with more than $5.5 million of that cash in the bank.

“This announcement is the icing on the cake of an extraordinary week for our campaign. We are on the air sharing our positive, progressive message, we gained national attention in Glamour magazine, we earned endorsements from Congressman Patrick Murphy and the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest union — and now we’re announcing another $1 million raised,” campaign manager Julia Woodward said.

“While another $1 million is huge, the number we’re most proud of is the 20,000 individual supporters who have given to our campaign. Gwen is building a real grassroots movement to end 20 years of one-party Republican rule and set our state straight.”

The campaign said those 20,000 individual donors, including 1,500 added last month, are the most of among the five major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Gov. Rick Scott in the fall.

Graham was the final Democratic candidate to announce May fundraising numbers.

Earlier this week, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said he brought in $1.3 million via contributions and added another $1.3 million of his own money for a combined haul of $2.6 million. He’s brought in $15 million to date.

Winter Park businessman Chris King said Thursday that his reports will show $78,661 raised and $400,000 in self-funding for a to-date total of $5.1 million, while Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced $361,750 in May receipts. He’s raised $3.4 million so far.

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene joined the Democratic primary on June 1 but has kept quiet so far. His first finance report is due June 29.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Patrick Murphy: ‘I’m proud to support Gwen’

Patrick Murphy is out, and he’s supporting Gwen Graham.

The Democratic former congressman made it official Thursday afternoon when he announced he was dropping his ambition to run for governor and support his former congressional colleague instead.

Murphy joined Graham at a press conference in Pembroke Pines Thursday afternoon to essentially declare that she already is the kind of candidate he wanted to run as. For months Murphy had preached the need for a more moderate, anti-hyper-partisan gubernatorial candidate and was considering taking that lane himself,  in a run that would have had him include Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly as a running mate.

“I have decided not to enter the race for governor because there is one Democratic candidate already demonstrating the leadership Florida needs and fighting for the values we share — and that Democrat is Gwen Graham,” Murphy stated in a news release issued by Graham’s campaign. “I’m proud to support Gwen because she’s determined to expand access to affordable health care in Florida, will always stand up to protect Florida’s environment, and will finally give our public schools the attention and leadership our children, families and teachers deserve.”

Murphy served four years in Congress representing Palm Beach and Martin counties in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He lost that seat when he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016. Jolly also briefly had been in that race, but dropped out before the Republican primary.

Murphy’s support helps solidify Graham’s quest for the more moderate lane in an August Democratic primary race that also includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

“I’m proud to call Patrick Murphy a close friend and am honored to have his support. In Congress, we worked together to ban oil drilling off Florida’s beaches and to restore the Everglades,” Graham stated in the release. “I was proud to support him in his campaign against Marco Rubio and, as governor, I will work with Patrick to restore our promise to public schools, protect our environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”

25 big questions facing Florida politics heading into Summer

Summer is here — well, unofficially at least. And with it comes cookouts, summer vacations, and the final six months of the 2018 campaign. With the busiest election cycle in Florida’s modern history, the answers to these 14 questions (plus a fill-in-the-blank) could shape the future of the state.

Will Marco Rubio fully embrace his role as a counterbalance to Donald Trump? As close as Florida’s junior Senator appears to be with Trump and as much as the president seems to have abdicated foreign policy decisions on Latin America affairs to him, Rubio has recently been one of the most forceful critics of the administration. On China, the FBI investigation, immigration policy, and several other issues, Rubio is articulating an alternative to Trump’s vision. Rubio is anything but Lil’ Marco right now. How long this lasts, however, is anyone’s guess.

— Does Bill Nelson have an answer for the Rick Scott juggernaut? Even Democrats acknowledge that Scott’s first months back on the campaign trail have been impressive, so much so that he turned a four-point polling deficit to Nelson into a four-point lead. He’s done it by barraging Florida’s senior Senator with one TV ad after another. Scott is also working to reshape Florida’s electoral math by aggressively campaigning to Hispanic subgroups (Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans) that traditionally vote Democratic. Meanwhile, Nelson’s re-elect is bare-bones (the political director is splitting time between the campaign and her Senate job) and only recently received air cover from Senate Majority PAC. Nelson recently said he would keep his powder dry until the fall. That strategy did not work for Charlie Crist in 2014, but maybe Pete Mitchell (Nelson’s longtime consigliere) knows something we don’t.

Follow-up: Will an active hurricane season lockout Nelson from campaigning while Scott gets to don his Navy ball cap and SERT jacket and play Action Figure Governor?

— How often does Donald Trump campaign for Ron DeSantis? — With polls showing Adam Putnam and DeSantis running neck-and-neck for the GOP nomination for Governor, it seems like the entire race may come down to how much shoulder Trump puts behind the U.S. Rep. he has described as one of his “warriors.” POTUS recently said he’d soon be in Florida to stump for DeSantis, but with a trade war with China and peace talks with North Korea occupying so much of Trump’s time, how often can he campaign in the Sunshine State? Putnam supporters are prepared for a rally or two, plus a robocall and some tweets, but if Trump sets up shop at the Florida State Fairgrounds, there may not be much they can do to stop DeSantis.

Follow-up: Will DeSantis do anything that resembles traditional campaigning, such as hire an expanded staff, establish campaign HQs, or issue policy positions? Or is his only path to the Governor’s Mansion via Fox News?

Follow-up: Will Florida Man Roger Stone, indirectly linked with a dark-money campaign attacking DeSantis, be indicted as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation?

— Can Adam Putnam stop shooting himself in the foot? He’s raised $30 million, has built a statewide organization that would make Jeb Bush envious, and his knowledge of Florida and its issues is, arguably, unparalleled among those running for Governor. Yet, where it stands now, there’s never been more doubt about whether Adam Putnam can win his party’s nomination, much less the general election in November. It seems like just as he is gathering momentum, his campaign does something to trip over itself, as it did by scheduling a fundraiser at the home of a man videotaped in 2008 shooting two dogs. Putnam eventually canceled the event, but not after losing another news cycle. The hard truth is he never fully recovered from the cringe-worthy moment when he described himself as an “NRA sellout.” And that was before the Parkland school shooting. It’s become so bad for Putnam, even his hometown allies at Publix had to promise to stop contributing to him. Putnam’s saving grace? There’s still time to right the ship. Maybe.

Follow-up: Will any other significant corporate contributors to Putnam be boycotted similar to what happened to Publix over Memorial Day Weekend?

— Is the Democratic field for Governor set? Ever since John Morgan (wisely) closed the door on a statewide bid, the Democratic field has remained static with Philip Levine and Gwen Graham leading in the polls, Andrew Gillum insisting he has momentum, and Chris King looking to breakout. Perhaps because none of these four has been able to emerge as the clear front-runner, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and former U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene are both eyeing entering the race, with Greene the more likely of the two to get in. Murphy has floated the idea of running on a bipartisan ticket with former Republican Congressman David Jolly and has met with high-level donors about underwriting their maverick bid. It’s unclear how much of an appetite there is for a two-white-dudes ticket in a Democratic primary, just as it’s unclear if Greene is willing to part with the $40 or $50 million (at least) he’d need to be competitive. One thing you can bet on is Graham hoping one or both of them join the race and further divide the vote.

Follow-up: Will Morgan continue to plow money into a 2020 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15? What will he do next to push for full legalization of marijuana (and not just the medical kind)?

Follow-up: If Murphy doesn’t run, what does Jolly do next? He’s ubiquitous on cable news, but he doesn’t live in a winnable congressional district. Read his Twitter account and try to tell yourself he doesn’t want to mount a primary challenge against Trump in 2020.

— How much money is Phil Levine willing to spend to win the primary election? He may not be getting the best ROI on his money, at least in terms of television points purchased versus his standing in the polls, but the former Miami Beach Mayor can claim ‘scoreboard‘ when it comes to his decision to spend millions of dollars on early TV ads in his pursuit of the Democratic nomination. He’s entering the summer with a 10 point lead over Graham, according to one poll. Of course, Graham hasn’t really gone up with her own ads, but even when she does Levine can still flood the airwaves with his spots. That’s if he wants to write a check for another $15 or $20 million. The increasing chatter among many insiders has Levine narrowly winning his primary, then facing off against DeSantis in the fall.

Follow-up: When does Graham go up on the air? More importantly, can she raise the money to be on the air for the final post-July 4th weeks of the campaign?

Follow-up: Will Gillum have the resources needed to communicate to African American voters and the progressive wing of the party, the two pillars he’s basing his campaign on?

Follow-up: Now that he’s rolling out his agenda and spending money on TV ads, will King finally see a bump in the polls?

Follow-up: Will any of the Democrats emerge victorious from the series of debates planned for over the summer? Or will they regress to their performances on display during the first televised debate?

— What kind of campaigns — for and against — will spring up around the CRC’s ballot questions? The Constitution Revision Commission tacked on a slew of proposed amendments to the state constitution. And almost all of these amendments address multiple, albeit linked, issues. And with each of these issues, there’s a special interest who will be impacted by whether the amendments pass. Energy companies are opposed to the ban on offshore drilling, tobacco interests should be opposed to the vaping ban, and the education establishment should be very afraid of the proposals dealing with charter schools. Both sides of the proposed ban on greyhound racing are already gearing up for a loser-leaves-town match. Political consultants should be able to pay their kids’ tuition with the money they can make off these races.

Follow-up: Will city and county governments be able to muster a defense against the expansion of the homestead exemption?

Follow-up: Will the push to restore voting rights find bipartisan support?

— Will any of the undercard candidates breakout? There are multi-way GOP primaries for Agriculture Commissioner and Attorney General and, after that, there are promises to be competitive races for at least two of the Cabinet positions. But if you polled any of these races, undecided would probably capture three-fifths of the vote. Who the heck knows who Jeremy Ring (he’s running for CFO) or Baxter Troutman (he’s running for Ag. Commissioner) are? With limited budgets, these candidates are hoping for a breakout moment in July or August. Meanwhile, they’ll keep up with the grassroots campaigning, clawing for endorsements, working the county parties, winning straw polls, etc.

— Where will state Democrats find the money to fund their Senate campaigns? In at least six districts, Republican incumbents face legitimate threats to their re-election as Democrats seek to win four of those races in order to regain a share of control of the Florida Senate. But these races are brutally expensive; some other states’ races for governor are not as costly as those in battleground Senate districts. Perennially cash-strapped, Florida Democrats probably need to raise $10 million to fund all of these challengers, but Republican Senate leaders have warned special interests not to play in these races. The bottom line: Democrats have the table set … they’ve got their forks and knives … they’ve even got the A-1 sauce. Now all they need is the steak.

Follow-up: Can Senate Democrats actually work together to gain seats or is the recent formation of two political committees by a faction of Senators a sign of dissension to come?

Follow-up: Will former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas decide to run for Senate District 36?

— What kind of surprises are in store for the last day of candidate qualifying? This is Florida politics, so you know there will be some kind of shenanigans on the final day of candidate qualifying on June 22? Perhaps a veteran pol will decide at the last moment to not seek re-election? Maybe (or almost certainly) someone hoping to run will screw-up their check or paperwork and, in the end, be kept off the ballot? How many faux candidates will qualify as write-ins, thereby closing legislative races to only one party? All of this and more will likely happen, so pull up a chair outside of the Division of Elections and watch the drama unfold.

— What is David Hogg’s next target? The Parkland student has taken down Laura Ingraham, Publix, and, somewhat, Putnam? If you are a corporate executive, right now you are praying Hogg doesn’t turn you into his next hashtag. And if he does, there’s working strategy for how to respond. Conservatives increasingly despise Hogg’s activism, especially as he threatens to get more involved in the upcoming elections. But good luck fighting with this teenager (that’s right, he’s still just a teenager). Hogg could be, if he’s not already, the most dangerous individual currently operating in Florida politics.

We always close this article with a reminder that it is the truly unknown unknowns that make Florida politics so maddeningly interesting. As much as we know there will be elections in August and November, we don’t know if there will be another hurricane or shooting that will change the trajectory of #FlaPol and all of the players involved. Best to pray that nothing tragic occurs, but be prepared for the eventuality that something will.

Gwen Graham walks back comments about possible David Jolly lieutenant governor pick

Democrat Gwen Graham now says she’s committed to picking a Democrat as her lieutenant governor, after previously saying she was open to selecting former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly for the role.

An earlier report from POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo highlighted Graham’s comments on Jolly to the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast.  Jolly has been rumored to enter the race on a unity ticket for some time. Until now, the rumors have paired him with former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. On the podcast, Graham had said she’s eyeing both men as possible picks for lieutenant governor.

“I see my lieutenant governor selection as someone who’s going to be right by my side helping me get this state back on the right path,” said Graham on the Miami-based “Strange Days” podcast. “And so Patrick would certainly fit that definition, as would David, as would all the other candidates for governor on the Democratic ticket at the moment. So it’s really going to be for me a thorough analysis of who can bring the most to help make the biggest difference in the state of Florida.”

She went on to say Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida’s 13th Congressional District, was a friend. Graham said she was looking for “someone who can help me govern.”

Now, Graham says a Jolly pick is out of the question. “For lieutenant governor, I will choose a Democrat who reflects my progressive values: a woman’s right to choose, supporting public schools, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding health care with a public option, and passing bold gun safety legislation.”

The Andrew Gillum campaign had called out Graham for her appeals to bipartisanship.

“It’s beyond frustrating that the self-described ‘very conservative’ Gwen Graham is already considering splitting the ticket to run with the GOP, especially with an energized Democratic base ready to vote Republicans out,” said Orlando state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, one of Gillum’s campaign surrogates.

Gillum supporters have already gone after Graham, accusing her of not being liberal enough. Just last week, a super PAC called The Collective launched a campaign ad attacking Graham’s voting record while she was in Congress. Graham sniped back at the Gillum camp, calling on them to denounce the ad.

Orlando state Rep. Amy Mercado said of the ad and Gillum, “These type of dirty tricks have no place in our state or our party, and he should immediately call for the ad to be taken down.”

Graham added: “This is the first public Democrat attacking Democrat that I have seen in this campaign. And it really does disappoint me. And I would hope Andrew would recognize that this is not the right thing to do and would ask The Collective PAC to pull it down because that ad is just full of lies.”

While Jolly is a Republican, he has emerged as a sharp critic of President Donald Trump, which could help negate any backlash of the pick from the Democratic base.

That criticism was noted by Graham in her announcement clarifying her position on Jolly. “While and I obviously disagree on many issues, like many progressives, I do respect his bravery taking on — more than even some Democrats in the race for governor have been willing to do. Every day, I am disgusted that more Republicans, like and , refuse to stand up to and defend decency and our democracy — refuse to place our country and our state ahead of politics. It is appalling.”

Poll: A Patrick Murphy-David Jolly ticket reflects Democrats’ desire for the middle

A newly commissioned poll suggests that Democratic voters are seriously interested in a “unity” ticket that would be led by former U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, and David Jolly, a Republican, in Florida’s gubernatorial race.

The poll’s more significant ramification, however, may be that Florida’s Democrats may prefer a compromising moderate Democrat to a staunch progressive idealist.

The poll by Frederick Polls, an outfit that Politico points out was Murphy’s pollster, puts a Murphy-Jolly ticket atop the Democratic field, taking 21 percent, compared with 17 percent for Philip Levine and 12 percent for Gwen Graham, with Andrew Gillum and Chris King showing in for support.

Yet the result might be more about Florida Democrats desire to see unity in the spirit of “getting things done” than any explicit support for Murphy and Jolly, who’ve been dropping hints about a unity ticket after spending much of the past year touring together on a bipartisan two-man show against hyperpartisan politics.

The question as Frederick Polls, of Arlington, Va., posed it was:

“Some people are urging Patrick Murphy to run for Governor and pick David Jolly, a moderate and independent former Republican Congressman, as his Lt. Governor running mate. They say it would be a clear sign Murphy would be a different kind of Governor who would work together with reasonable Republicans in Tallahassee to set aside Florida’s old, partisan politics and get things done for Florida. In this case, who would you vote for in the Democratic Primary for Governor?”

The survey was of 750 likely Democratic primary voters, taken April 23-28 through a mixture of landline and cellphones.

Murphy and Jolly both ran for the U.S. Senate two years ago. Jolly, who was then a Republican Congressman from Clearwater, pulled out when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election after all, while Murphy, then a Democratic congressman from Palm Beach Gardens, lost to Rubio in the general. Since then, the two have united in their message that partisan politics have ruined Congress, touring college campuses and other venues in Florida and nationally.

The central question that put a Murphy-Jolly ticket atop the Democratic field was not the only one suggesting that Florida’s Democratic voters want someone seeking the middle.

Voters picked, 70-22, “a moderate Democrat who is willing to work together with reasonable Republicans to get things done,” over “a who is committed to fighting for true progressive policies without compromise.”

Before they were asked about the unity ticket the voters were asked just about the four announced candidates, plus Murphy, and Murphy finished tied with Graham for second, with 14 percent, while Levine grabbed 20 percent.

Even with that, and with Gillum and King, 44 percent of voters still declared they are undecided.

Lauren Baer and Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy endorses Lauren Baer in CD 18 Democratic primary

Lauren Baer announced Monday that former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy had endorsed her in the Democratic Primary for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“I am excited to stand here today and endorse my friend Lauren,” Murphy said in a press conference at Baer’s campaign headquarters. “Lauren has the drive and passion to want to get into public service because she cares about solving problems. She has spent her career finding common ground to solve some of the toughest problems and she’ll take that experience and fight for the residents of Florida’s 18th every day.”

Murphy’s endorsement was teased in a Friday release from the Baer campaign announcing the press conference. He held the CD 18 seat for two terms, opting to forego re-election in 2016 to challenge Marco Rubio’s in the U.S. Senate race. His exit paved the way for Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast’s election over Democrat Randy Perkins.

“From his election in 2012, through his last day in 2017, Patrick served this community with distinction. He exercised the kind of empathy, bipartisanship, and integrity that we too rarely find in our leaders today,” Baer said. “I look forward to following in Patrick’s footsteps and to representing everyone in this district with the honesty and integrity that they deserve.”

The Murphy endorsement comes two weeks after U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch offered his support for Baer in her primary race against former Navy JAG Pam Keith.

Baer, who has already qualified for the ballot, leads Keith in fundraising with more than $700,000 on hand through the end of March compared to about $50,000 for Keith, who also ran in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, losing to Murphy in the primary.

Mast is only nominally opposed in the Republican Primary. He leads all candidates in fundraising with $2.9 million raised and more than $1.5 million in the bank.

CD 18 covers St. Lucie and Martin counties, as well as a chunk of northern Palm Beach County. The district, which voted plus-9 for Donald Trump, is only superseded by CD 26 and CD 27 on Democrats’ 2018 wish list.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s “Crystal Ball” currently lists CD 18 as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Lauren Baer and Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy joining Lauren Baer in CD 18 announcement

Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is joining Democratic congressional candidate Lauren Baer Monday, likely for the announcement of his endorsement of her for the Florida’s 18th Congressional District seat he once held.

An endorsement would be a push against fellow Democratic candidate Pam Keith, Murphy’s former opponent in a previous race, who’s been running an outsiders’ campaign for the CD 18 nomination anyway. Baer has set the announcement for 10 a.m. Monday at her campaign headquarters in Jupiter.

They both want a shot at Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who succeeded Murphy for the seat when Murphy ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Keith also ran in that U.S. Senate race, losing in the Democratic primary to Murphy.

Baer, of Palm Beach Gardens, has raised more than $1 million, and has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in the Treasure Coast district.

Joe Henderson: Potential Murphy-Jolly ticket just not believable

Politicians do love to have their egos stroked, especially when someone whispers: “Hey, you are the answer to all the problems we face. You are the only hope for this state.”

The latest example of this seems to be a story that caught legs a couple of days ago, the one where a couple of well-known names from different political parties may be considering joining forces for a gubernatorial campaign.

I refer, of course, to Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican David Jolly.

Having the two run on one ticket — Murphy as governor, Jolly as his loyal lieutenant — sounds like something a screenwriter would come up with for a movie plot about fixing government dysfunction.

I suppose we have to allow that anything is possible, especially in a political world where Donald Trump was elected president. But I just can’t see much long-term potential in something like this. To think the pair could win, or even make a significant dent in the vote totals, is just not believable.

I like and respect Jolly, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pinellas County, for his maverick views on how the people we elect to public office should conduct themselves.

After losing his seat in Congress, he has reinvented himself.

He has turned into a regular on MSNBC’s political talk shows, where he is pointed and precise. He also appears to harbor a dream that Republicans will one day come to their senses and become principled conservatives again instead of strident ideologues.

That may well happen one day but doesn’t mean there will be a place at the Republican table for Jolly if it does. He didn’t just burn his political bridges, he nuked them. Would Democrats accept him as one their own? Not likely, although, well … there is noted party-flipper Charlie Crist.

And Murphy, a two-term Congressman, didn’t excite anyone during his ill-executed run in 2016 against Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.

It is true that the current Democratic field of candidates — Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King — doesn’t exactly have the state buzzing yet.

It’s early.

It is also worth noting that a large and enthusiastic crowd turned out last weekend in Hillsborough County to listen to those four candidates at the Democrats’ Spring Fling fundraiser.

That brings up Jolly’s favorite topic — fundraising. He went very public with his disgust at the amount of time members of Congress were expected to spend on raising cash to fund party initiatives.

Well, coming up with enough money to fuel a long-shot governor’s bid would require begging, groveling, and making promises this proposed ticket probably couldn’t keep.

And if by chance a Murphy-Jolly ticket did get in the race, and it later could be shown that it cost Democrats the governor’s mansion, Murphy would be a pariah in his own party from here to eternity.

Murphy and Jolly have a very public bromance going, and they are traveling the country explaining exactly what’s wrong with Washington.

As the website for the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida notes, the tour is designed to “pull the curtain back on how we got here, to shine a light on the inside reasons why Washington has fallen into stalemate and dysfunction.”

They also offer proposed solutions.

Certainly, a campaign built around that theme sounds interesting in theory.

The truth is, though, it sounds even more like a publicity stunt that I believe both men would regret in the long run.

A Patrick Murphy-David Jolly gubernatorial run isn’t the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but …

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy seems to be under the mistaken impression that because he was his party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, that he is the party’s leader.

So when the Democrat watched last week’s televised debate among the four announced gubernatorial candidates, Murphy, according to a source very familiar with his thinking about what he may be planning, sized up the field and said, ‘Hey, I can do better than that.’

While there’s no arguing with Murphy’s concept that Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King looked like, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Tim Nickens observed, they are not ready for prime time or with his conceit that he may be able to do better than that quartet, the possibility of a Patrick Murphy-David Jolly gubernatorial ticket isn’t the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s not only implausible, it’s practically insulting.

After putting down Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary in 2016, Murphy ran a lackluster campaign against Marco Rubio, losing worse than he should have.

After redistricting shaded his congressional district more blue than red, Jolly lost a quixotic bid to hang on to a seat that had become decidedly Democratic.

Since those campaigns, Murphy and Jolly have fostered a friendship and have traveled across the U.S. on their tour “Why gridlock rules Washington and how we can solve the crisis.

The duo has become the toast of editorial boards everywhere.

Politicos who yearn for a “third way” in American politics would love to see a Murphy-Jolly ticket, just as they wanted to see a John Kerry-John McCain unity ticket in 2004.

You know who is not clamoring for a Murphy-Jolly ticket? Florida voters, especially Democratic ones. And Murphy will quickly find that out in the polling he has commissioned to gauge his statewide viability.

Oh sure, when asking voters generically about, say, ‘two centrist leaders with experience in government,’ the numbers will be through the roof, but when you ballot-test Murphy-Jolly vs. the field, reality will set in.

What Murphy wants Democratic primary voters to do is pick him, a two-term congressman (hey, that’s twice as long as Graham’s time in D.C.) with a bent for moderation over a field of tried-and-true progressives. Part of his plan is a commitment to name as his running mate a former Republican lawmaker and lobbyist who agrees with very little in the Democratic platform other than Donald Trump is no bueno.

If this weren’t Florida politics, I’d say you were making this all up.

Unfortunately, this is reality and here’s where my words get serious. For one, Murphy’s plan to name Jolly as his running mate should be taken as an insult by true Democrats. They’ve been in the wilderness for more than twenty years, and now, with their first genuine shot of winning back the Governor’s Mansion, Murphy (a former Republican himself) wants to enlist the help of his while male buddy to get the job done. Neither of whom has worked day one in state government.

Democrats should tell him thanks, but no thanks. They should tell Murphy he’s more than welcome to join the Democratic primary, as candidate qualifying doesn’t close for a month. But they should insist he commit to not naming any Republican — be it Jolly or someone else — to the ticket.

I may be down on a Murphy-Jolly ticket, but I do have to give Murphy credit for something. Like John Morgan, he’s helped expose the weaknesses of this Democratic field — that Gillum is too radical, that Graham is over-emotive on the stump and underwhelming on fundraising calls, that Levine is from that foreign land known as Miami-Dade, and that King begins his day reading the Sayfie Review.

All four of these candidates continue to plead to party activists and the media that they are the real deal.

One of the four may eventually become something like the real deal, but because they’re not now, the door is open for one of the most interesting political partnerships since Matt Santos named Arnold Vinik his Secretary of State.

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