October 19, 2016

Patrick Murphy plans Tallahassee fundraiser for Oct. 30


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will be in Tallahassee at the end of the month for a fundraiser hosted by some prominent names in Florida's capital city 10 days before Election Day.

The host committee for the Oct. 30 afternoon event includes Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and attorney Ben Crump (who gained national attention while representing Trayvon Martin's family in the 2012 case against George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed the black teenager).

The event is scheduled to be held at Crump's law office, Parks & Crump. Crump's law partner Daryl Parks is also on the host committee, although his name is misspelled on the invitation.

Donations to attend range from $25 for guests to $500 for hosts, according to an email invitation Murphy's campaign sent out Wednesday afternoon.

View the invitation here.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

Republicans accuse Patrick Murphy of U.S. House ethics violation over 2014 oppo book

Campaign 2016 Florida (3) (2)


The Republican Party of Florida's executive director alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy violated House ethics rules because a recently leaked opposition research report that Murphy’s 2014 congressional campaign commissioned on the candidate himself says it was done "in collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office."

Federal law and House ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from using official congressional resources for campaign or political purposes. Murphy has been in Congress since 2013.

RPOF executive director George Riley signed off on an official complaint, which says it was emailed to the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the political committee that seeks to elect Senate Republicans, like incumbent Marco Rubio -- distributed Riley's letter Wednesday morning.

Read the letter here.

Last week, Buzzfeed reported on the contents of the opposition research report, which it obtained from a Republican source. Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign did not dispute the validity of the 400-page document. Such reports are commonplace for campaigns, offering insight about vulnerabilities (and strengths) into a candidate's personal and professional record so that the campaign can prepare ways to defend (or highlight) that history.

"This admitted 'collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office' provides clear evidence that Murphy's office 'collaborated' with the campaign in preparing this document," Riley wrote in his complaint. "At a minimum, it provides both a 'reasonable basis' and 'probable cause' to believe that Murphy improperly used official resources for campaign purposes, justifying further investigation by OCE."

Aside from requesting that OCE "fully investigate Representative Murphy's use of official resources" for the vulnerability study "and for any other campaign purpose," Riley also asked that OCE "refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice for further review, as appropriate."

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement in response to the complaint: "Marco Rubio's special interest allies seem to file false attacks like this every week. This is nothing more than a frivolous waste of taxpayer resources in an attempt to benefit Marco Rubio and his endless political ambition."

The leak of the 2014 opposition research, and subsequent filing of an ethics complaint, indicates national and state Republicans remain worried about Murphy's chances of unseating Rubio in November. (Although national Democrats seem to feel differently since, as recently as this week, they've withdrawn millions of dollars in ad support intended for Murphy.)

Despite Murphy struggling in September against Rubio, he's had a somewhat stronger October -- thanks, in large part, to the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump and Rubio's decision to still stand by the Republican presidential nominee.

This is at least the second ethics complaint filed against Murphy this cycle. This summer, a Democratic progressive blogger who supported Murphy's primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, filed an ethics complaint over Murphy's ties to political donors who benefit from a immigration visa program Murphy has supported. No public decisions have been announced as to the state of that complaint.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.

President Obama speaks Spanish in new ad for Patrick Murphy



While national Democratic groups are all-but abandoning Patrick Murphy to fend for himself in Florida's U.S. Senate race, the party's figurehead isn't.

President Barack Obama cut another ad for the two-term Jupiter congressman -- this one in Spanish.

In the new 30-second spot, Obama said Murphy "will fight for immigration reform, better education, and higher wages."

"Go out and vote for Patrick. Your vote is very important," he added.

Of the eight general election ads Murphy's campaign has released to date, this is the first one that doesn't also simultaneously attack, or even mention, his opponent: Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy's campaign said the ad will air in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami as part of an existing million-dollar ad buy.

This is the latest example of Murphy's aggressive and noticeable efforts to improve his appeal among Hispanic voters since late September. Rubio, a Cuban-American who's fluent in Spanish, has polled stronger among that demographic, aside from leading Murphy in every poll for months. (Recent overall polls have shown the two candidates closer, which has narrowed Rubio's average advantage to 4.2 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics.) 

Obama -- and Vice President Joe Biden -- endorsed Murphy in the spring. Obama did both radio and TV ads for Murphy over the summer when he was still in a contested primary against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Image credit: Patrick Murphy campaign / YouTube

As they debate respect for women, Rubio aims to make old photo haunt Murphy

Murphy girlfriend pic

@ByKristenMClark & @TMarreroTimes

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has hammered Marco Rubio for weeks on women’s issues, whether it be the Republican incumbent’s opposition to abortion or his continued allegiance to Donald Trump.

After Murphy persisted on that line of attack for the better part of Monday night’s U.S. Senate debate in Orlando, Rubio had had enough.

And he lowered the boom on his challenger — so abruptly it left Murphy temporarily rattled in search of a response.

The weapon: An old photo of a fresh-faced Patrick Murphy sitting at a table with one arm around a woman and a few fingers of his other hand apparently grabbing at her breast.

More here.

Photo credit: In this undated photo from several years ago, current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy appears to be grabbing at the breast of a woman who he says was his then-girlfriend. Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio referenced the photo during the candidates’ first Senate debate Monday night. Rubio’s campaign provided the image, with the woman’s face blocked out. (Provided by Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign)

October 18, 2016

Murphy elaborates on old Facebook photo Rubio brought up in debate

Campaign 2016 Florida (3)

via @TMarreroTimes

TAMPA -- The Facebook photo has been circulating for weeks among GOP circles: a fresh-faced Patrick Murphy sitting at a table with one arm around a woman and a few fingers of his other hand apparently on her breast.

During Monday night's debate, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tried to use the photo as a weapon against Murphy, a Democratic U.S. House member running to unseat the West Miami Republican.

Murphy has criticized Rubio for his support for Donald Trump, especially after allegations about Trump's treatment of women. In the latter half of the debate, Rubio turned the tables and referenced Murphy's photo, calling it "inappropriate behavior." Murphy appeared flustered.

On Tuesday, Murphy, 33, dismissed the photo as an artifact from his early 20s and said Rubio's attempts to use it against him were "low" and "desperate."

"Look, when Donald Trump goes low, Marco Rubio goes lower," Murphy told reporters after a campaign event in West Tampa. "This is a picture with my girlfriend from my 20s, a college girlfriend. I dated her for four years, and we were at dinner."

Murphy graduated from the University of Miami in 2006. He first ran for the U.S. House in 2011, winning his Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast seat in the 2012 election.

"Look, Marco Rubio showed just how desperate he was last night by trying to wiggle, and got himself in this knot about Donald Trump," Murphy said. "He's trying to pivot and change the subject. It was very clear to me how uncomfortable Marco Rubio was when talking about Donald Trump and someone who's bragging about sexually assaulting women. It's unbelievable to me."

Asked later to elaborate on the date and circumstances of the photo, a Murphy spokesman said the campaign would let the congressman's words stand on their own.

Continue reading "Murphy elaborates on old Facebook photo Rubio brought up in debate" »

DSCC pulls last remaining ad support for Patrick Murphy

Murphy primary nite 1 - richard graulich pbp


It's official: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee won't be helping Democrat Patrick Murphy at all with TV ads during the general election campaign this fall.

The committee this week started cutting the remainder of its reserved ad time -- worth about $2 million -- which had been planned for the final week of the election.

The decision was not unexpected, because the DSCC has been gradually withdrawing its money from Florida since early September when the committee had initially claimed it would shift its resources to closer to Election Day. (It didn't.)

The group had, this spring, reserved $10 million in total ad time to support Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter who the DSCC was quick to endorse after Murphy declared his candidacy in spring 2015.

However, this fall, the DSCC's dollars were re-directed to other states with competitive Senate races, as Murphy struggled to gain ground on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

While Republicans were quick to link the DSCC's decision with Murphy and Rubio's first debate on Monday, DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in an email the decision to cut the remaining dollars was made before the event.

She said it was "absolutely not a reaction to the debate. Patrick did incredibly well."

The DSCC's decision comes as a new poll was released Tuesday that showed Murphy within 2 percentage points of Rubio. It was conducted in the week prior to the debate.

Earlier this month, a Democratic super PAC, the Senate Majority PAC, also pulled about $6 million of its planned $10.5 million ad support for Murphy.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post

Poll: Rubio, Murphy in dead heat for Florida U.S. Senate seat

Rubio murphy


The most recent poll from Quinnipiac University finds Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's lead over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has narrowed to just 2 percentage points -- making it a dead-heat about a month out from Election Day.

The poll, done Oct. 10-16, found Rubio with 49 percent support, compared to 47 percent support for Murphy. About 4 percent were undecided.

The last Quinnipiac poll done in late September had Rubio with a 4-percentage-point lead.

Rubio has led every poll since June by various margins. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll conducted earlier this month also found Rubio with a 2-percentage-point lead.

None of Quinnipiac's polls have included Libertarian Paul Stanton or the four independent candidates who will also be on the ballot: Tony KhouryBruce Nathan, Steven Machat and Basil E. Dalack.

Photo credit: AP / Palm Beach Post

Rubio, Murphy go after one another in policy-infused Senate debate

@ByKristenMClark & @JeremySWallace

ORLANDO -- After weeks of sniping at each other on the campaign trail, Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy were able to do it in person Monday night in their first of two scheduled U.S. Senate debates before Election Day.

Over 57 heated minutes, Murphy, the Democratic challenger, repeatedly attacked Rubio for his absenteeism during his first term as U.S. senator and for his continued support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Rubio, meanwhile, highlighted embellishments Murphy made to his academic and professional résumés and what he called Murphy’s “record of doing absolutely nothing” in his first two terms in Congress.

Murphy — lagging in every poll since June and still lacking name recognition among a significant portion of likely voters — needed to shine Monday in front of his largest audience to date. Except for a few rattled moments and repetitious answers, he generally held his own against the more battle-tested Rubio, as the two also covered a gamut of policy issues including immigration, foreign policy, gun control, climate change and healthcare.

More here.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

October 17, 2016

'Third-party candidate' with armed security attempted to crash Senate debate


With three armed security guards in tow, an uninvited third-party candidate for Florida's U.S. Senate seat unsuccessfully attempted to enter Monday night's debate between Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy.

Courtney Gilmartin, spokeswoman for University of Central Florida's police, said the four men attempted to enter the ticketed event as the debate began at the university's Fairwinds Alumni Center. The debate started at 7 p.m.

The candidate, whom Gilmartin did not identify, did not have a ticket, she said, "and his security was armed, which is a violation of Florida state statute that prevents guns on college campuses unless they are securely locked inside a vehicle."

No one was hurt, the men were removed from campus and the debate went on as planned, Gilmartin said. She said more information, including police body camera video, would be available Tuesday.

UPDATE: More here.

Independent U.S. Senate candidates protest, unsuccessfully sue for inclusion in Murphy-Rubio debate


Upset that they've been barred from participating in tonight's televised U.S. Senate debate between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a couple of the independent candidates in the contest are venting their frustration.

"When you’re marketing for public awareness and telling the public 'Marco Rubio vs. Patrick Murphy' are the two candidates, you’re misleading the public and you’re depriving the public of the opportunity of knowing there’s five other candidates," no-party-affiliation candidate Steven Machat, of Miami, told the Miami Herald's editorial board Monday in a phone interview. 

Machat unsuccessfully sued in both federal and state court with a demand that he and the other independent and third-party Senate candidates be included in the two debates scheduled. A federal judge last week said U.S. District Court wasn't the proper venue for the case, and a state judge in Miami separately rejected Machat's request for an injunction in an order Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Tony Khoury, a Miami businessman and fellow NPA candidate, plans to protest outside the University of Central Florida's Fairwinds Alumni Center just before the debate starts at 7 p.m. -- and he's threatening to crash the event.

In a statement Monday morning, Khoury's campaign said he would "attempt to attend" the debate to make his point of why he and the other candidates ought to be included.

"Voters are tired of the duopoly that the two major parties hold over politics, and nowhere is that more destructive than in our debates," Khoury said. "This systematic stifling of opinions and solutions is killing our cherished American Democracy."

Only Murphy and Rubio were invited to participate in the two scheduled debates for Florida's nationally watched U.S. Senate race. Debates typically have cut-offs for participation, such as how well candidates are doing in the polls.

Aside from Murphy and Rubio, the other candidates on the ballot are Libertarian Paul Stanton and independent candidates Khoury, Machat, Basil Dalack and Bruce Nathan.