@ByKristenMClark & @DavidJNeal
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy spent Election Day in his familiar territory of South Florida trying to maximize as many votes as possible in what's expected to be a close outcome between him and Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
The Miami-born Palm Beach County congressman began the day in north Miami-Dade County -- including with a stop at a polling site he visited on the day of the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, which he won decisively.
"I think it's good luck to be in this location," Murphy said at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens. "So we're here making sure people show up to vote, getting those last few voters, making sure if they have any questions, we're here to answer them.”
The hip-hop and modern soul music from WEDR 99 Jamz booth that dominated the library parking lot got stepped on by chants of “Mur-phy! Mur-phy! Mur-phy!” as Murphy shook hands, posed for selfies and talked with supporters before hitting the radio booth.
Asked what he wanted to see on Election Day to indicate he'd defeat Rubio, Murphy said, “Long lines. People show up to vote, we win.”
“It's going to be a close race,” he said. “It's Florida. We expect close races.”
By this afternoon, Murphy had made his way up to Palm Beach Gardens -- home to his campaign office and where Murphy's campaign is hosting its Election Night watch party.
Speaking with reporters, he repeated similar themes of optimism for victory and echoed some of the main talking points of his campaign as a final pitch to TV viewers.
He also said -- on the final day of his 20-month campaign -- that if voters elect him to the U.S. Senate, he's going to work on his Spanish.
At one of his last stops of the campaign, Murphy was asked twice Tuesday afternoon by reporters from Spanish-language media if he could offer a message to their viewers in Spanish.
With a quiet, awkward laugh, all Murphy could humbly say each time was: "Gracias por su voto." ("Thank you for your vote.")
After the second reporter had asked, Murphy jokingly explained: "At one point I was pretty much fluent in Spanish, but I’ve lost it in 14 years, so if elected to the U.S. Senate, that’s something I’m definitely going to brush up on."
Murphy has lagged Rubio throughout the general election campaign this fall, but Murphy says he's optimistic tonight and predicted, "I think we win by 1 or 2 points."
But if he doesn't win, what are his plans? "I haven't thought about that yet," Murphy said with a big grin. "Call me tomorrow morning."
Murphy is campaigning down to the wire in an effort, he said, to maximize voter turnout. His campaign has sent out a half-dozen fundraising emails today making last-minute pleas for money and support.
"We're just trying to do everything we can to get our message out there," Murphy said.
Murphy's dozen supporters at the Palm Beach Gardens library -- waving signs and chanting and cheering -- were outnumbered by the army of media that's come in to town to cover the conclusion of Florida's nationally watched U.S. Senate race.
Clark reported from Palm Beach Gardens, and Neal reported from Miami Gardens.
Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau