There is little doubt who Democrats in the U.S. Senate are pulling for in Florida's smoldering Democratic Primary to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
The day after outspoken Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson officially entered the race on July 29 against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, it touched off a financial stampede with Democrats in the Senate. Starting July 30, 15 Senators used political action committees they control to pour $62,000 into Murphy's campaign over nine weeks, campaign finance records show. Seven of those members were making their first Senate campaign donations to Murphy, including Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, Ohio's Sherrod Brown and Missouri's Claire McCaskill, who is the keynote speaker at the Florida Democratic Party's annual meeting in Orlando on Saturday where both Grayson and Murphy are also speaking.
Murphy was already winning support from Democrats in the Senate in the spring when he filed. PACs controlled by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman John Tester and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York were among eight to give Murphy a combined $35,000 through May.
But as Grayson, a three-term congressman, ramped up his campaign and became more serious, Murphy's support exploded. Murphy now has almost $170,000 from 29 of the 46 Democrats in the Senate. That's nearly a two-thirds majority among Democratic senators, including Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, who gave Murphy $5,000 in June.
Donations to Grayson's campaign from senators: 0.
"I've never seen anything like that," said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor and analyst who has studied Congress for decades.