Peter Schorsch: The Florida Senate race, 'Star Trek' and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

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In what has to be one of the best opening sequences of any Star Trek episode or movie, James T. Kirk somehow manages to win the unwinnable test. For those of you who consider such sci-fi schlock beneath your station, the Kobayashi Maru is a no-win training exercise that tests the character of the new cadet, while being disguised as a mock battle scene — one that cannot be won.

Kirk somehow manages to win the unwinnable test.

How did he do it?

He reprogrammed the machine.

In 2012, Patrick Murphy was facing an uphill battle. Adorned with political newcomer status, Murphy was set to face off against a seasoned veteran in former state representative and popular term-limited mayor of West Palm Beach, Lois Frankel.

By all accounts, he would lose. He was indeed facing his own Kobayashi Maru.

Then Murphy reprogrammed the machine.

He moved north and ran in a more competitive seat against Tea Party fave Allen West.  Now keep in mind, at the time this was seen as a turn-tail-and-run-for-the-border move and his odds of winning against one of the most prolific fundraisers in America meant he had his work cut out for him.

Most people had counted him out.

But Murphy squeaked it out, barely landing outside the automatic recount margin.

Fast forward to 2014, and somehow, in a GOP landslide year and in a seat where Republicans outnumbered Democrats, Patrick Murphy didn’t squeak out a victory. He kicked the crap out of his opponent, earning nearly 60 percent of the vote. To put this in context, Frankel, in a safe Democratic seat, actually scored a point lower than Murphy.

60 percent!

This is a seat that uber-guru Charlie Cook used to score as a “Republican toss-up” but now is seen as “Likely Democratic” despite the fact the Republicans actually outnumber Democrats.


Because of the Kobayashi Maru. How did Murphy end up trouncing his GOP opponent in a GOP-leaning seat in a GOP-landslide year? He made damn sure he would face the weakest opponent in the general election. (Sorry Carl Domino, but you were.)

So with the stepping aside of DWS from the Senate race, one has to wonder if Patrick is once again doing what he did before … reprogram the machine.

And what big name is left to challenge him? Alan Grayson.


Grayson has been an articulate voice of the left. He hails from a solid media market and will have no problem raising money.  But if a Google search of your name turns up headlines with words like “bizarre,” “bigamy” and “trial,” you might have some problems during a hard-fought campaign.

Kirk, as you may recall, wasn’t thrown out of Starfleet for cheating. He was instead given a commendation for original thinking.

Peter Schorsch is a new media publisher and political consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Last updated on May 17, 2016

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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