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 The district, which voted plus-9 for Donald Trump, is only superseded by CD 26 and CD 27 on Democrats’ 2018 wish list.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.