Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has endorsed Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.
“To be a U.S Senator requires a number of talents, one of which is to be an effective ambassador for your state in Washington, particularly a state that has as diverse a population, economy, range of interests, international relationships, as does Florida,” Graham said in a conference call organized by the Murphy campaign. “That ambassadorial role is extremely important. I’m confident that Patrick, with his knowledge, energy and his demeanor, will be a very effective representative for Florida interests in Washington.”
Murphy said he was “proud and quite frankly, humbled to receive this endorsement.”
It was hardly a surprise. The Murphy camp issued a statement alerting reporters on Friday that the two men would be making a joint announcement Monday morning. Graham joins a growing list of big-name Democrats backing Murphy over fellow Florida U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in the race for the seat Marco Rubio is vacating.
That list includes Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid, as well as 46 Democratic lawmakers in Congress.
Revered in Florida Democratic politics, the Graham name would seem to carry more weight than arguably any that have come before it, including the president.
Grayson, though, doesn’t think so.
The outsider in the race says it’s simply another case of “the establishment supporting the establishment,” and he questions how powerful the Graham name actually is in Florida Democratic circles these days.
“If you take a look at the polling for those who pitted his daughter against me and Patrick, his daughter came in a very, very poor third in that hypothetical race, so I don’t think that a lot of voters would be influenced by that at all,” he said.
A Mason-Dixon poll conducted last summer showed that Gwen Graham, Tallahassee-based congresswoman and Bob Graham’s daughter, came in a distant third in a hypothetical matchup vs. Grayson and Murphy.
“My endorsement is totally positive towards Patrick,” insisted Bob Graham when asked why he’s endorsing Murphy over Grayson. “I’m not making this endorsement in the context of picking among several. I am very strong for Patrick Murphy and the qualities that he has, which I think will be very appealing to Florida voters in November of this year.”
Both men are backing Hillary Clinton for president this fall, and think that the presence of Donald Trump on the top of the GOP ticket in Florida will only enhance Murphy’s chances of making it to the Senate.
“I think that adds to the number of the reasons to be optimistic about Patrick Murphy,” Graham said.
“There are a sizable chunk of Republicans that are supportive of Mr. Trump’s message,” Murphy said. “Quite frankly that scares me.”