August 21, 2016

Patrick Murphy's dad dumps $1M into Senate Democrats' super PAC

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@ByKristenMClark

Patrick Murphy's father continues to pour large sums of money into the 2016 election in the hopes of getting his son elected to the U.S. Senate.

A new FEC filing shows Thomas Murphy Jr. gave $1 million last month to a Democratic super PAC that has ties to outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

The Senate Majority PAC is one of several independent Democratic groups aiding Patrick Murphy's campaign in the hopes a victory in Florida will help the party win back control of the chamber.

The Hill in Washington D.C. was the first to report on the contribution. Thomas Murphy's donation to the Senate Majority PAC came July 13, just two days before the super PAC announced a $1 million ad buy in Florida to help Patrick Murphy's race.

On the campaign trail, Patrick Murphy, a two-term Democratic congressman from Jupiter, has openly chastised the influence of money in politics and said he supports campaign finance reform. However, he hasn't rebuked his father's hefty political donations that have contributed to Murphy's own political rise -- in this election and previous ones.

MORE: "The financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid: Dad"

In May, Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times: "My dad is my best friend and mentor. I talk to him at least once a day, maybe twice a day. I think a lot of people in public service and a lot of people in business are grateful for their parents’ help. I’m no different from them."

Republicans coined the nickname "Privileged Patrick" this year in an attempt to highlight Murphy's family wealth and his affluent South Florida upbringing. His Democratic primary opponents, Pam Keith and fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, have also characterized Murphy in ways that emphasize his father's ongoing effort to boost his son's political career.

Thomas Murphy Jr. is founder, chairman and CEO of Coastal Construction Group, one of South Florida's largest construction firms.

Aside from last month's $1 million contribution, the elder Murphy also gave $500,000 this year -- through himself and Coastal -- to a pro-Murphy super PAC, Floridians for a Strong Middle Class. In the 2012 election, Patrick Murphy's first when he narrowly defeated tea-party incumbent Rep. Allen West, Thomas Murphy gave $550,000 into two super PACs supporting his son.

Super PACs aren't subject to campaign contribution limits and can't coordinate with candidates' campaigns.

Photo credit: Walt Michot / Miami Herald

August 19, 2016

Patrick Murphy blasts Marco Rubio for 'terrible record on women’s health'

Capture@ByKristenMClark

A day after Marco Rubio unveiled a new TV ad that showcases how he helped a mother get cancer drugs for her daughter, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is accusing the incumbent Republican U.S. senator of trying to "to paper over his terrible record on women’s health."

In Rubio's ad, Blanquita Trabold talks of how Rubio worked with the Food and Drug Administration to secure a yet-unapproved cancer drug that helped her daughter, who was battling breast cancer.

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign says Rubio is using the ad to "distract Floridians from the facts" -- including Rubio's opposition to abortion and his support for repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood.

VOTERS GUIDE: "Florida, meet your U.S. Senate candidates"

"It will take a lot more than special interest money to distract from Marco Rubio’s disastrous record on basic rights for Florida women," Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement. "Instead of waging extremist crusades on a woman’s right to choose, Rubio should focus on showing up to the U.S. Senate and doing his job. Florida women deserve better than an absentee senator who has never fought for them."

In response, Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens said: "Leave it to Patrick Murphy to try to politicize cancer. Marco is proud to have helped this Florida mother receive the medication her daughter needed and will continue to fight for all of Florida's families."

Polls have Murphy leading the Democratic field in the upcoming Aug. 30 primary -- which is why he's already aggressively targeting Rubio for a likely general election match-up. Republican groups supporting Rubio are also on the offensive against Murphy.

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, faces fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith in this month's primary. Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff is challenging Rubio.

Image credit: Rubio ad, "Daughter"

Get to know Florida's U.S. Senate contenders in the August primary

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@ByKristenMClark

In Florida’s closely watched and highly competitive U.S. Senate race, four Republicans and five Democrats are competing in the Aug. 30 primaries for coveted spots on the general election ballot.

Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy are the most well-known names on each party’s ballot, but they face resilient challengers hoping to edge out a come-from-behind victory.

After a failed presidential run, Rubio wants to stay in office for another six-year term, while Democrats are pulling no punches to unseat him — pouring money and high-profile endorsements behind Murphy’s bid, in particular. Democrats hope a victory in Florida’s race will help them win back control of the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Click here to learn about the top contenders for Florida’s U.S. Senate contest.

MORE: Miami Herald's Voters Guide

August 18, 2016

Republicans slam Patrick Murphy for supporting Iran Deal

@ByKristenMClark

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has released a new attack ad against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy -- criticizing him for supporting the Iran Deal and being "just another rubber-stamp for the Obama-Clinton agenda."

Using a dramatic voice-over and background music, the web ad accuses "Democrats like Patrick Murphy" of "failing to keep us safe" from an "out-of-control" Iran.

The ad claims the Iran Deal allows the Middle East country to now have "a path to build a nuclear bomb" and says the U.S. has given them "billions of dollars in the process."

The ad also references a $400 million payment the U.S. made to Iran this year, which Republicans have called a "ransom" payment since it coincided with the release of four Americans held by Iran. (The Obama administration rejects that assertion and says the money was part of an overdue settlement owed to Iran.)

"The video holds Patrick Murphy accountable for recklessly supporting the Obama-Clinton appeasement of the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," the NRSC said in a statement. "Back when he decided to defy the will of the American people, Murphy offered his full support for the Iran nuclear deal."

The NRSC is supporting incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida's Senate race. Polls have Murphy leading in the Democratic field, which is why he's been the Republicans' major target.

In response to the ad, Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen tried to turn the tables, saying: "It's Marco Rubio who will be the rubber stamp for Donald Trump's dangerous national security agenda."

"Marco Rubio is trusting 'con man' Donald Trump with our nation's nuclear codes and rarely attended important classified Intelligence meetings," Slayen said, repeating the Murphy campaign's line of attack against Rubio over his poor attendance in the Senate.

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

Report: With Rubio 'running strong,' Koch brothers pull back money

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@ByKristenMClark

A spokesman for the billionaire Koch brothers told The Hill on Wednesday that Charles and David Koch are pulling back on their financial assistance to Marco Rubio's re-election campaign.

The Hill reports the Koch brothers cancelled more than a half million dollars in Florida advertising intended to help the incumbent Republican U.S. senator for the week following the state's Aug. 30 primary.

Why?

Because "Rubio is running strong in Florida," Koch network spokesman James Davis told the newspaper.

Read the full story here.

This comes two weeks after the Rothenberg-Gonzales Political Report changed its assessment of Florida's Senate race from "pure toss-up" to leaning in Rubio's favor.

Polls have shown Rubio with a healthy lead in his primary against Carlos Beruff and with an edge over both of the leading Democratic candidates, U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, in general election match-ups.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

Marco Rubio launches new ad, "Daughter"

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@ByKristenMClark

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio launched a new ad for his re-election campaign today.

The 30-second spot, called "Daughter," features a Florida mother, Blanquita Trabold, who speaks of how Rubio worked with the Food and Drug Administration to get a cancer drug that helped her daughter, who was battling breast cancer.

"He got me the medication within a week. Thanks to Marco, I had three more months with my daughter. Marco Rubio was there for me when I needed him most," Trabold says in the ad.

The ad will run in select major markets. It's being paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee using coordinated funds with Rubio's campaign.

Rubio says he's raised more than $3M since July 1

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@ByKristenMClark

Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio's campaign announced today that the U.S. senator has brought in almost $5.5 million since he launched his re-election bid in late June.

That includes about $3.25 million that was raised since July 1 alone, the campaign said.

The campaign reported having $4.6 million in the bank, as of Aug. 10.

Rubio's camp noted that all donations came as a result of "direct contributions," as opposed to money raised through joint fundraising committees.

Today is the deadline for U.S. Senate campaigns in Florida to file their pre-primary campaign finance reports, covering July 1 through Aug. 10. Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 27, campaigns are require to report any contributions in excess of $1,000 within 48 hours.

The primary is Aug. 30, and mail-in and in-person early voting are already underway.

Rubio is the first of the U.S. Senate candidates to release their pre-primary figures.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

August 17, 2016

Marco Rubio: Patrick Murphy is 'lazy' and 'feels entitled' to U.S. Senate seat

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@ByKristenMClark

Speaking on a conservative talk radio show this morning, incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio gave blistering criticism of his potential Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- foreshadowing Rubio's attacks for a likely general election match-up.

"Lazy." "Privileged." "Entitled."

Those are the words Rubio used to describe Murphy during an interview with John Hinderaker on "The Laura Ingraham Show." They are some of Rubio's harshest descriptions to date of Murphy -- the leading Democrat in the Aug. 30 primary for U.S. Senate.

For his part, Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, has been directly attacking Rubio for weeks -- emphasizing Rubio's poor attendance record in the Senate and his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Both Rubio and Murphy have largely ignored their primary opponents.

Hinderaker asked Rubio about the two Democratic front-runners in this month's primary, Murphy and fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, and Rubio acknowledged Grayson only briefly.

"Alan Grayson, as I've said before, is not well," Rubio said. "I don't say this lightly because it's a term that's thrown around loosely -- but Alan Grayson is an unstable person."

Rubio then laid into Murphy at length -- attacking his work ethic, his affluent upbringing, his voting record, and for embellishing his resume.

"Patrick Murphy is an unreliable person," Rubio said. "He’s lazy; he’s not a very hard worker. He’s not a guy that you can see his campaign. He barely does events, he kind of just is phoning it in, and I think he feels entitled to it."

Continue reading "Marco Rubio: Patrick Murphy is 'lazy' and 'feels entitled' to U.S. Senate seat" »

Congressional Black Caucus supports Patrick Murphy, drawing backlash from Pam Keith

Patrickmurphy01wmm@ByKristenMClark

Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign announced today that it has picked up another endorsement -- this one from the Congressional Black Caucus.

In a statement provided by the Murphy campaign, the caucus' political action committee chairman U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York praised Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, for "his passion on the issues that matter to Florida communities firsthand."

"We know that he will be a great senator who shows up and works hard for Florida," Meeks said.

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC states its mission as "working to increase the number of African Americans in the U.S. Congress, supporting non-black candidates that champion our interests, and promoting African American participation in the political process-with an emphasis on young voters."

It's unknown whether the caucus gave any consideration to Murphy's main primary competitors -- fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, of Orlando, or Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, who is African American and the only woman in the Senate race. (Grayson and Murphy are both white.)

Keith criticized the endorsement -- alleging that it was a reward for Murphy's financial support of the caucus' members through political contributions.

"Patrick Murphy, his PACs and his parents and family have donated liberally to current members of the CBC to obtain their support," Keith said in a statement. "Therefore, this endorsement has nothing to do with the candidate best suited to represent African American voters or who has an actual platform of ideas to address issues facing the African American community, and has everything to do with the candidate best suited to financially assist CBC members in their own races. In that regard, Patrick Murphy's personal wealth definitely leads the pack."

Murphy said he was "proud" of the caucus' support and reiterated his vow to "fight for our progressive priorities," such as criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage.

African American voters make up about 28 percent of the 4.7 million registered Democrats able to vote in the Aug. 30 primary.