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Democrats’ spending for Stephanie Murphy at $5.7 million, John Mica’s campaign reports

National and statewide Democrats and their organizations have now reached $5.7 million in spending to try to help Stephanie Murphy defeat longtime Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Mica said Monday morning.

Mica’s campaign announced the latest number this morning while again denouncing the Washington Democrats’ backing of Murphy as “unprecedented” in any Central Florida contest. The numbers come from the Mica campaign’s monitoring of TV spending in Orlando, and are not yet confirmed through filings with either the Federal Election Commission or the Federal Communications Commission.

“It’s record shattering,” Mica told FloridaPolitics.com. “There’s never been a seat for any office in which outside parties have come in and spent that kind of money. They’ll probably be right on the edge of $6 million before the end of this week. It’s just astounding.”

Last week’s FEC filings showed the outside spending had reached $4.6 million in Orlando on Murphy’s behalf. Most of that came through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but the House Majority Political Action Committee also had put in almost $1 million, and the Florida Democratic Party has put in a significant amount.

Some outside spending also is coming to Mica’s aid, but far less than for Murphy through last week. The National Republican Congressional Committee had spent almost $700,000 and the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action another $50,000 in CD 7. More is expected.

Mica and Murphy, both of Winter Park, are battling for the congressional seat to represent Seminole County and north-central and northeast Orange County. In last year’s redistricting, the district went from being a safe Republican district to a virtual toss-up. The DCCC stated there now at 174,000 registered Democrats and 170,000 registered Republicans in the district.

Mica’s campaign said they have identified another $1.1 million going into Orlando TV buys to support Murphy Monday.

With that, and with official spending by the Mica and Murphy campaigns, the total spending in the district likely is well over $7 million.

“Part of it is probably prompted because we’re doing well in the polls. The last one showed us with not a huge lead but a significant lead, considering we took a $4.6 million battering,” Mica said.

While Mica’s commissioned polling has shown him leading the race by four or five points, Murphy’s commissioned polling shows her ahead by two or three points. Either way, the results are within the margins of error, remarkable for a contest between a 12-term incumbent and an absolute newcomer.

Mica acknowledged the attack ads against him in mailers and on Orlando TV him may have taken a toll.

“When you spend that kind of money you can impact a race,” Mica said. “Their goal is to taint my reputation and that’s what all the ads are directed towards. So let’s see how much damage that does.”

Murphy’s campaign said Mica’s response seeks to hide the fact that voters are interested in Murphy’s message and his own inability to run effectively.

“No matter how much Congressman Mica desperately tries to demean Stephanie and her accomplishments, Stephanie’s story, message and campaign for change, security and equality are strongly resonating with voters who are clamoring for change and strong moral leadership,” Brad Howard, campaign manager for Stephanie Murphy for Congress stated. “The fact of the matter is that Stephanie has run a stronger, smarter and more aggressive campaign than anyone expected and so of course the national parties are going to play here. For all the outside money Congressman Mica continues to whine about, he’s perfectly fine accepting millions from national Republicans and the NRA who are trying to bail him out after running a sloppy, chaotic and underwhelming campaign.”

At the same time, Mica said he had adopted the goal of trying to pressure the Democrats into spending as much as possible in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, to divert that money from going into other races his GOP colleagues might then win.

“Now I’ve probably done double duty for my team, taking what will amount to about a $6 million hit. Remember, in August they said they would spend $3 million and now they’re doubling down on that,” Mica said. “I don’t know. I’m just costing them a lot of money. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it, but we’re working hard.”

Meanwhile, Mica’s campaign has been trying to characterize the outsize spending as a power grab by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, arguing she is coordinating an effort to “buy” the CD 7 seat for Democrats.

“Murphy’s scary campaign is trying to trick our community,” Mica campaign spokesman Alan Byrd said. “What’s really being served up this Halloween is one huge I.O.U. for Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats that will be paid back at the expense of Central Florida.  It’s time Murphy took the mask off her campaign and revealed her true identity — a puppet for Washington D.C. power interests.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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