Stephanie Murphy puts blame for statewide Democratic losses on misguided airwave campaign
Stephanie Murphy.

The retiring Congresswoman said Florida Democrats lacked a ground game in 2022.

Florida Democrats suffered a bruising Midterm Election even as the party beat expectations nationwide. But U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy isn’t ready to call Florida a red state. Rather, she puts underperformance by the blue team in 2022 squarely on the shoulders of statewide candidates.

“How do you spend $100 million in this state and then have nothing to show for it?” she said. “I think that’s political malpractice.”

The remarks, made at Tiger Bay of Central Florida, put the burden of the losses on former U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis in a 19-point landslide, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who fell short in a challenge of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio by nearly as much.

Notably, Murphy passed on running for Senate herself, then announced she would not seek another term in the House. That means for the first time since her successful campaign for Congress in 2016, she spent the campaign on the sidelines.

Murphy said she was stunned at a lack of ground game on the part of statewide Democrats.

“There has never been a campaign or you haven’t people in purple shirts and iPads, wandering through neighborhoods, asking people for their votes,” she said.

She said Democrats in Florida erred by thinking they could win by papering the airwaves, which made money for media consultants and news stations, but left few resources for any ground infrastructure leading toward Election Day.

Some of that falls on a national party too quick to abandon Florida.

“The national Democrats had decided to torch Florida,” she said. “They really did not play here the way they used to in any significant way.”

But in some ways that was predictable. Too many state losses in prior election cycles eroded a sense Florida remained in play, even with the Senate race as recently as 2018, when Republican Rick Scott unseated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, in a race decided by just over 10,000 votes.

Murphy notes in that race, she outperformed Nelson by more than 8,000 votes in her own district, and Democrats should have been able to run races then as well but lost most.

That’s not to deny Republicans any respect, she said.

“I will give credit to Ron DeSantis,” she said. “People voted for people who did pragmatic things that affected their lives. There were a lot of things that I would say he did that were questionable on that just from a Democratic perspective. However, people in Florida felt like they got through the pandemic relatively okay. And they rewarded that.”

So what of the future? Murphy told Florida Politics she thinks it could take Democrats years to recover from such doldrums.

“I think it takes a couple of cycles for a state this large to build the necessary infrastructure to be able to prevail,” she said.

While on stage, Murphy fielded questions whether she would consider a statewide run again herself, with some noting Scott’s Senate seat is back up in just two years.

“I’m not going to break any news today,” she said.

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].


  • Margaret

    December 9, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    Democrats lose when they count on “consultants” who are nothing but political whores, making money off of either party, regardless. They also did not take into consideration the power of the youth vote, which made a difference in other parts of the country. In Duval County, there are plenty of enlightened young folks, but the leaders of the party here are hopeless.
    They don’t even run candidate in some elections. Choosing Crist as a front runner, for instance was a losing proposition, and should never have been allowed at a time when a strong candidate with clear, consistent views, such as Demmings should have been promoted. Instead, Democrats should have realized that Black voters, especially women voters would vote for Demmings. And, young voters, as well.

    • ave

      December 13, 2022 at 3:50 pm

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  • Andy Madtes

    December 10, 2022 at 7:40 am

    The reason their was no ground game is because there is no money in it for the money grubbing disgusting Democratic consultants in this state. All the money is in bullshit mail and tv.. The Democratic Party has been destroyed by these blood sucking political consultants who only care about their pockets!!!

    • It's Complicated

      December 12, 2022 at 5:01 pm

      Andy is absolutely correct. These consultants don’t care if they win or not because the Democratic Party keeps coming back to them for more abuse. Keep up the good work!

  • 95 South

    December 11, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    Americans do not like the Democrat plan.

  • samantha albers

    December 12, 2022 at 9:54 am

    How about just awful candidates carrying a message no one wants.

  • It's Complicated

    December 12, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Democrats lose because they are absolutely tone deaf on the issues important to voters, AND their candidates are just AWFUL. Echo chambers never translate into elections won. NEVER.

Comments are closed.


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