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Florida’s progressive Democrats rake president’s Patrick Murphy endorsement

(Updated) A day after President Barack Obama announced his support for Patrick Murphy in the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida, a die-hard Obama supporter is asking him to reconsider the endorsement, saying he made it with poor information.

Susan Smith, president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, issued a statement  Thursday, saying that she is “profoundly saddened and disappointed by his apparent lack of trust in Florida Democrats to choose our own U.S. Senate nominee.”

As Smith noted Alan Grayson is the choice of Democratic voters in the race, according to recent polls. She also noted Murphy is a former Republican. In fact, Murphy cut a check for Mitt Romney in 2007.

“Patrick has been a tireless champion for middle-class families and a defender of the economic progress that American workers and businesses have made,” Obama said in his statement. “In Congress, he’s fought to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, reform our criminal justice system, and protect a woman’s right to choose. Floridians can count on Patrick Murphy to stand up for them every day as their next Senator.”

Smith disagrees, saying the president has made his endorsement with “bad information,” saying that the Jupiter Representative wants to look at cuts to Social Security.

The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida hasn’t been shy about indicating their displeasure with the institutional support that Murphy is receiving from Democrats in Florida and nationwide. A year ago they questioned his Democratic Party bona fides, leading to a mini-civil war among some members of the party.

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux fired back.

“We are deeply disappointed in the Progressive Caucus’ statement,” he said in an e-mail sent to FloridaPolitics.com. “To use this statement to imply the President and Vice President of the United States are misinformed or unable to thoughtfully arrive at conclusions that differ from the Progressive Caucus’ view is as disturbing as their decision to attack a Democratic member of Florida’s Congressional delegation. We are a big tent party with diverse views and should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. The Florida Democratic Party welcomes the input of President Obama and Vice President Biden in our races.”

Here’s Smith’s statement in full.

As someone who worked hard to help President Obama win Florida in 2008 and 2012, I am profoundly saddened and disappointed by his apparent lack of trust in Florida Democrats to choose our own U.S. Senate nominee. In fact, poll after poll has shown that Florida Democrats tend to prefer Alan Grayson over former Republican Patrick Murphy.

As much as it breaks my heart to see President Obama attempt to put his thumb on the scale for Patrick Murphy, it’s even more worrisome that the president seems to have done so with bad information. Patrick Murphy has said he wants to look at cuts to Social Security, and he supported the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan that would have cut benefits for the vast majority of Social Security recipients.
Patrick Murphy was a Republican until he decided to run for office in 2011, and before he decided to run for Senate, he voted like one. It’s one thing if the President is willing to look past Murphy’s support for the Republican’s Benghazi witch hunt and the Keystone XL pipeline, but it is another thing entirely to make an endorsement based on bad information. I hope the President will read up on Murphy’s real record and reconsider his decision to throw the weight of the White House behind someone who will do Wall Street’s bidding.
Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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