August 06, 2016

Patrick Murphy won't commit to town-hall meetings

Murphy@ByKristenMClark

While Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson plans to host a town-hall meeting in Miami Dade County on Saturday afternoon, his main primary opponent, Patrick Murphy, won't commit to holding any for his campaign.

"We've been doing all sorts of events, as you've seen here," Murphy said Friday afternoon -- following a private fundraiser and an unannounced campaign stop with Vice President Joe Biden at a small, local restaurant, which was largely occupied by invited guests and Democratic supporters of Murphy's.

"I've been doing dozens and dozens of events around the state, all sorts of sizes, meeting as many people as humanly possible," said Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, who's the front-runner in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the party establishment's favored choice.

When pressed on whether town-hall meetings, specifically, were in his plans, Murphy said: "Call them whatever you want. We meet people all the time, doing events, going to restaurants like this. I'm running a grassroots campaign, going left to right, up and down from Key West to Pensacola, meeting people."

Murphy offered a similar non-committal answer to a Times reporter on Thursday -- a day after Murphy backed out of the only scheduled debate with Grayson ahead of the Aug. 30 primary. (Murphy said he didn't want to give Grayson a platform for his campaign, because Grayson's ex-wife recently accused him of domestic abuse during their 25-year marriage that was annulled last year.)

Aside from the Biden events, Murphy's campaign announced just two events this week, both on Thursday: a press conference in Tampa announcing the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and an Orlando press conference with a parent of a Pulse shooting victim to criticize Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio over gun control reform.

Town-hall meetings typically involve an elected official or politician interacting directly with their constituents by taking their questions and providing answers in a public setting with an audience.

Grayson is from Orlando. His event on Saturday begins at 4 p.m. at the Stadium Hotel in Miami Gardens. The topic is on the Zika virus -- for which Miami is Ground Zero for the first local transmissions in the U.S. -- and what Grayson calls "the wholly inadequate public health response from the federal government and state of Florida."

Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald

August 05, 2016

Joe Biden: Democrats have 'a genuine quality candidate' in Patrick Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

The last time Vice President Joe Biden was in Florida campaigning for Patrick Murphy, the dynamics of the state's high-profile U.S. Senate race were very different.

That was in mid-May.

Before incumbent Republican Marco Rubio decided to seek re-election after all -- up-ending the status quo of Florida's Senate race.

And before Murphy's campaign took a hit from multiple media reports that revealed Murphy had inflated his academic and professional credentials by either incorrectly stating them or by omitting a full explanation of his pre-congressional experience.

Murphy remains the Democratic front-runner out of a field of five, but in hypothetical match-ups against Rubio, Murphy is now behind by double-digits, instead of edging out the Republican pack as he was before Rubio jumped in.

But what hasn't changed since Biden's last visit is Biden's glowing support for Murphy, a 33-year-old, two-term congressman from Jupiter.

On his third visit to Florida for Murphy since March, Biden on Friday continued to shower Murphy with praise -- touting Murphy's youth and the need for Democrats to take back control of the Senate in November.

"It’s really important that we win back the United States Senate, no matter what the outcome of the presidential -- and I think we’ll do well in the presidential -- but there’s so much at stake in terms of the Senate," Biden said, while speaking to reporters as Murphy and Biden made an unannounced stop at O'leans Cafe across the street from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee on Friday afternoon.

"I feel pretty good across the board, starting off, because I think we got a quality candidate, a genuine quality candidate," Biden said of Murphy.

When a Herald/Times reporter asked Biden for his thoughts on the media reports about Murphy's embellishments, Biden was quick to defend Murphy and dismiss the issue.

Continue reading "Joe Biden: Democrats have 'a genuine quality candidate' in Patrick Murphy" »

August 04, 2016

Biden fundraising Friday in Miami for Wasserman Schultz, in Tallahassee for Patrick Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

For the third time since March, Vice President Joe Biden is returning to Florida to campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy — this time in Tallahassee.

A source close to Murphy’s campaign confirmed to the Herald/Times that Murphy and Biden are scheduled to attend a fundraiser together around midday Friday at the home of Don Hinkle, a Tallahassee personal injury attorney and prominent Democratic donor.

No details are available about any public campaign stops Murphy and Biden might make while the pair spend the afternoon in Florida’s capital city.

But Biden’s prior campaign trips with Murphy — first in Miami and then in Orlando — included an unannounced stop at a local restaurant.

After traveling to Tallahassee, Biden will fly to Miami to headline a a fundraiser in Coconut Grove for beleaguered Weston U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who last week resigned her post as Democratic National Committee chairwoman amid controversy over leaked emails.

More here.

Photo credit: Vice President Joe Biden campaigns with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy at an Orlando restaurant in mid-May. Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

Patrick Murphy vows to make himself available to voters, even without debate

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Via @adawsonwrites

YBOR CITY — U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy defended his decision to cancel a debate in his bid for the Senate and said he still will put himself out for questioning through other campaign forums.

Asked for specifics during an appearance Thursday, Murphy mentioned only campaign events scheduled in the next few days — a newspaper editorial board meeting, a news conference on gun violence in Orlando and a fund-raising event in Tallahassee.

He did not answer directly when asked whether he will schedule public town halls.

"I've been traveling the state for over a year now, zig-zagging, doing dozens and dozens of events, some big, some small," Murphy said during an appearance at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus, where U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa endorsed him. "I'm going to continue to be out there."

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, stood by his decision to cancel a debate scheduled before the Aug. 30 primary with fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Murphy said allegations Grayson had abused his ex-wife should disqualify him from public service.

"The truth is I've been hearing from so many survivors, individuals and groups saying 'Patrick, you cannot give Congressman Grayson this platform to legitimize his campaign,'" Murphy said. "To continue letting him have a voice while so many people are suffering out there, I couldn't, in good conscience, do that."

There are three other candidates in the Democratic primary but they were not invited to the now-cancelled debate. That was the decision of the debate sponsor, WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando, and was based on their low polling numbers, Murphy said.

Murphy had rejected earlier calls from the three candidates for more debates before the primary.

"We agreed to a debate with Congressman Grayson 10 days ago, and the only thing that's changed from that point till now are allegations of 20 years of domestic violence," Murphy said.

Photo credit: Anastasia Dawson / Tampa Bay Times

Poll: Rubio leads Grayson, Murphy by wide margins

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@ByKristenMClark

A new poll out by Suffolk University's Political Research Center today shows Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio up by at least 13 percentage points on either of his likely Democratic opponents in November's election for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

In a match-up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, Rubio leads 45 percent to Grayson's 31 percent, with about 22 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer. Against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rubio's lead narrows by 1 percentage point; he led 46 percent to Murphy's 33 percent, with about 19 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer.

Suffolk University surveyed 500 likely Florida voters by telephone between Aug. 1-3. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Florida's U.S. Senate race has garnerned national attention and millions of dollars in political spending because the election could decide which party controls the chamber next year.

The university's polling results further solidify Rubio's status as the front-runner in the Senate race, especially within his own party primary.

Of the 165 people polled who planned to vote in the upcoming Republican primary, 62 percent said they would vote for or were leaning toward Rubio, while his main challenger Carlos Beruff got 12 percent support. About 24 percent remained undecided and 1 percent didn't answer. Lesser-known candidates Dwight Mark Anthony Young and Ernie Rivera got 1 percent and 0 percent support in the poll, respectively.

In the Democratic primary, "undecided" was in the lead -- as it has been in many polls for months -- followed by Murphy.

About 40 percent of the 168 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed said they didn't know yet who they'd vote for -- even as some ballots have been mailed out already and there's less than a month until the election.

Murphy got about 36 percent support, followed by Grayson with 17 percent. Pam Keith received about 2 percent support, while newer candidates Reginald Luster and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente were tied with around 1 percent support. (Two percent of respondents didn't answer.)

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries for Florida's U.S. Senate race are Aug. 30. The winners will face each other in the November election.

Photo credit: Alan Diaz / AP

August 03, 2016

Patrick Murphy won't debate Alan Grayson

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@ByKristenMClark

The only debate in Florida's contentious Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate is cancelled.

In a surprise move, Democrat Patrick Murphy -- the leading contender in the race -- reneged this afternoon on a scheduled debate next week against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and Murphy rejected his primary opponents' pleas for more debates ahead of the Aug. 30 election.

The reason?

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, says allegations Grayson abused his ex-wife have "disqualified" Grayson from public service, and Murphy doesn't want to debate Grayson because of it.

"I cannot in good conscience give him a platform to promote himself and his campaign. As a result, I will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson," Murphy said in a statement this afternoon.

The statement was timed for release to coincide with a press conference Grayson and Pam Keith, a third Democrat in the race, had planned to hold in West Palm Beach to call on Murphy to agree to more debates.

More here.

 

MoveOn won't endorse in Florida's Democratic U.S. Senate primary

062116_grayson presser5@ByKristenMClark

MoveOn.org Political Action, a nationally known progressive organization, is withholding an endorsement in Florida's competitive Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in light of allegations that one candidate, Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, abused his ex-wife.

The organization sent an email to its members Friday afternoon, notifying them of its decision.

The group had previously launched an online poll to solicit its members' feedback on whom MoveOn should endorse in the race: Grayson, fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, or Pam Keith, a Miami labor attorney and former naval officer. (The poll was still live, as of this morning.)

"We recently asked your help in deciding which candidate MoveOn should endorse in the race for U.S. Senate in Florida. Since then, new and serious allegations of domestic abuse have emerged about one of the candidates, Representative Alan Grayson," read the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Herald/Times. "We are not in a position to fully investigate these claims but take them very seriously. Violence against women is never acceptable. In light of this disturbing news, we have decided not to issue any endorsement in this race at this time."

"We urge local authorities to act swiftly and to fully investigate these allegations," continued the email, which was signed by the group's leaders including executive director Ilya Sheyman.

Grayson has vehemently denied the claims by his ex-wife, Lolita Grayson. Their marriage was annulled last year. His campaign declined to comment about MoveOn's email.

MoveOn spokesman Brian Stewart confirmed the authenticity of the email to the Herald/Times and said, "I can't say what the outcome of an endorsement would have been" had the Grayson allegations not surfaced.

The group's online poll originally told members: "Any candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes cast will win the endorsement. If no one receives more than 50%, MoveOn won't endorse a candidate."

Grayson, known for being a liberal firebrand, recently lost endorsements from two other high-profile progressive groups (the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America) after the abuse allegations came to light last week.

MoveOn's survey did not include lesser-known Democratic candidates Reginald Luster and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, who will also be on the Aug. 30 primary ballot.

Photo credit: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, of Orlando, speaks to reporters in Tallahassee in late June. Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

Already looking to November, new Patrick Murphy ad attacks Rubio's Senate attendance

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@ByKristenMClark

Pledging "I'll never stop working for you" in his second TV ad for his U.S. Senate campaign, Democrat Patrick Murphy takes a jab at Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio's poor attendance record.

The 30-second spot, called "Work," is part of a nearly $1.7 million ad buy the Murphy campaign reserved in advance of the upcoming Aug. 30 primary. The ad will air in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

"Marco Rubio stopped showing up for work, let us down. I’m Patrick Murphy and enough is enough," the two-term Jupiter congressman says in the ad, before once again touting the endorsement of President Barack Obama (who appeared in Murphy's first TV ad last month).

In response to the ad, Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens said in an email to the Herald/Times that Murphy "knows nothing about getting things done for the people of Florida."

"That's why non-partisan studies have labeled him one of the 'least-effective members of Congress.' If Murphy had gotten a single bill passed during his years in Washington, maybe he wouldn't have to lie to voters about his resume," Ahrens said. "Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and national Democrats can try their hardest to pull Privileged Patrick across the finish line, but Floridians already have a senator with a strong record of fighting for them who has actually gotten things done."

Watch Murphy's new ad below:

Continue reading "Already looking to November, new Patrick Murphy ad attacks Rubio's Senate attendance" »

August 01, 2016

Patrick Murphy bashes Marco Rubio for not disavowing Trump

@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy chastised Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday for not condemning Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nominee's comments this weekend attacking the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq.

"Donald Trump is the man Marco Rubio wants to see elected as our next commander-in-chief. It is unacceptable that Marco Rubio remains silent as Trump seeks to tear down everything this country stands for," Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, said in a statement this afternoon.

Murphy added: "Trump has completely disqualified himself from the presidency, and if Marco Rubio can’t work up the courage to withdraw his endorsement, then he does not have the courage to be Florida's Senator."

While some other high-profile Republicans -- like Arizona Sen. John McCain -- have distanced themselves from Trump since this weekend, Rubio waited before commenting on Trump's widely criticized remarks in responding to Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the late Capt. Humayun Khan.

Rubio's campaign this afternoon sent out these comments that they said were made by the senator "earlier today" in Tampa:

On Saturday, Rubio affirmed his support for Trump, saying at a candidate forum in Sarasota: "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election."

Murphy is viewed as a front-runner in the Democratic field of candidates seeking to unseat Rubio. In the Aug. 30 primary, Murphy faces fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and former naval officer and labor attorney Pam Keith of Miami. Former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando are also running.

Rubio's primary challenger is Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff, an outspoken Trump supporter.

This post has been updated with Rubio's comments, which were released shortly after original publication.

UPDATE 5:05 p.m. Murphy wasn't satisfied with Rubio's comments today, issuing this follow-up statement this evening:

"In his shockingly tone-deaf and inadequate response, Rubio failed to even mention Donald Trump’s name. This was not a condemnation of Trump. This was Marco Rubio once again proving that he would rather pursue his political ambition and abandon this country’s values than stand up to his party's racist nominee for President."

Pro-Murphy super PAC duplicates ad touting Obama-Biden endorsement

@ByKristenMClark

In case Floridians haven't heard yet that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Democrat Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate, a pro-Murphy super PAC is airing an ad this week to drive that point home.

The 30-second spot from "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" might seem familiar to some Floridians. It's exactly the same as one launched two weeks ago by the Democrats' Senate Majority PAC.

It's the third such ad run in as many weeks that has touted Obama's and Biden's endorsement of Murphy, a Jupiter congressman. In the Murphy campaign's first TV ad last month, Obama appeared in person to sing Murphy's praises.

Murphy is relying heavily on the Obama-Biden endorsement ahead of the Aug. 30 primary where he'll face fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and former naval officer and labor attorney Pam Keith of Miami. Former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando are also running.

"Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" is spending $520,000 on the ad buy -- which is more than 60 percent of the group's most recently reported cash on hand. The super PAC reported having $812,000 in the bank, as of June 30. Super PACs aren't subject to campaign contribution limits and cannot directly coordinate with a candidate's campaign.

"Republicans are scared of running against Patrick Murphy; they know he's the strongest candidate against (Republican incumbent) Marco Rubio so they're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to distort his record before the Democratic primary," Ashley Walker, a representative for the super PAC, said in a statement.