U.S. Rep. Val Demings decision to run for U.S. Senate next year may scare off some candidates, but U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is not one of them.
While Demings is certainly a high-caliber candidate for Democrats to rally behind as they seek to boot Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from office. However, sources familiar with Murphy’s decision-making say the Central Florida Democrat believes she has the same upsides as Demings — and more.
Murphy has been positioning herself for a statewide run for months. While Demings had until recently been considered a potential gubernatorial candidate, Murphy’s has been speculated to run for the U.S. Senate from the jump.
Many onlookers, however, added a caveat: If Demings entered the race, Murphy would not.
Murphy, who represents Florida’s 7th Congressional District, does have some advantages to flex if she finds herself up against Demings. Namely, she’s already proved she can knock a longtime incumbent Republican out of office — and hang onto the same tough swing seat cycle after cycle.
A potential Murphy campaign would hammer the battle-tested narrative, noting that with the current 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, it’s not time to nominate someone who hasn’t proved they can come out on top in a tough election.
Another separator, the source says, are Murphy’s Spanish language skills, which make her uniquely suited to counter a narrative common in Hispanic communities that Democrats would turn the United States into a “socialist” country.
She also could point to her status as one of the most effective, bipartisan members of Congress. Murphy is a Co-Chair of the House Blue Dog Coalition, which is comprised of centrist Democrats. She has also fared well in numerous effectiveness rankings. The Center for Effective Lawmaking rated her as the No. 26 most effective Representative in the 115th Congress. Demings ranked No. 103.
Murphy could use that to pitch herself as a more steady handed lawmaker who would better appeal to General Election voters.
“Stephanie Murphy has never lost a race, despite representing one of the most competitive seats in the country,” Lauren Calmet, a spokesperson for Murphy, told Florida Politics. “She is an effective legislator, a proven fundraiser, and exactly the type of person who can beat Marco Rubio. Should she decide to run for the US Senate, she will win.”
In addition to Demings and Murphy, the Democratic primary could include former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who also hails from Central Florida. Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala had been rumored as a potential candidate, but she has since hinted she will run for Demings’ U.S. House seat.