Stephanie Murphy seeking reelection, won’t challenge Marco Rubio in 2022
You gotta give Stephanie Murphy some (tax) credit.

That's one Democrat not running statewide.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy will not run for Senate.

The Winter Park Democrat in a statement said she doesn’t want the effort to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, a second-term incumbent Republican, complicated by a Democratic primary.

“We’ve had too many close losses in Florida, and so I wanted to use my experience from winning tough races to help the party prepare itself,” Murphy said.

Murphy had been exploring a Senate bid for months. But since U.S. Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, signaled she will run for Senate instead of challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis, it has looked like a more difficult road to the nomination. Both Democrats draw from the same Central Florida pool of voters.

Murphy instead will seek reelection to her House seat. The district is one of the closest divided in Congress. Cook Political recently gave it a partisan voting index of D+2 and Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists it as likely Democrat, but those ratings come based on boundaries before the GOP-led Legislature redistricts ahead of the 2022 elections.

Many expected Murphy to run partly because she has a history of winning in a swing district. She defeated longtime Republican Rep. John Mica in 2016 and fended off two challenges since then.

Running statewide also could have avoided having to run in a swing district in a midterm cycle many expect will be favorable to Republicans.

Ultimately, Murphy said it’s important the party run in a unified effort in 2022.

“I’m grateful to all the Floridians who have reached out to me over the last few months encouraging me to run against Marco Rubio,” she said. “I wouldn’t be considering a run if I didn’t think I’d be a strong nominee. I have won every single race I’ve run, including a Primary and tough Generals in one of the toughest seats in the country.”

But while Murphy felt she could defeat Rubio, there’s no reason to think the incumbent would go down without a fight. “The reality is that Marco Rubio will not be an easy opponent especially if it’s on the heels of a bruising primary where Democrats spend millions attacking each other instead of using those millions to build the infrastructure we desperately need to win,” she said.

That said, it’s clear Murphy hasn’t dismissed a future in the upper chamber, and she suggests multiple times in the statement a run could come in the near future.

“I am deeply disappointed by our current representation. I think both Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott repeatedly put their own interests above the interests of the people of Florida,” she said, perhaps signaling a matchup in 2024.

She also makes note that any work done to strengthen Florida Democrats in 2022 will help in future cycles.

“While I will not be running statewide in 2022, I will work to help the Democratic Party build towards statewide success,” she said. “We must start now with unity of effort if we want the state to be ready to put the White House, a Senate seat, and more state and local races in the democratic column in 2024.”

Murphy made clear much of her agenda and biography that made her an attractive Senate prospect will play large as she seeks a fourth term in the House.

“I’m an incredibly proud and patriotic American. My family fled tyranny and thanks to the power and generosity of America,” she said. “I’m the first woman in my family to go to college and the first Vietnamese American woman in Congress. And I think the opportunities that allowed my family and me to work hard and get ahead are slipping away from too many Americans.

“So I’m not going anywhere. We have so much work that remains undone. I’ll be working in Congress to fight for Florida and working with the White House to get us through this pandemic and help build our economy back better than before.  I’m excited about the work ahead, and I’m looking forward to it because I will never stop fighting for Floridians and for progress that moves this nation forward.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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