Carl Domino's the GOP Front-runner to Challenge Murphy
Around the State
As Ellen Andel heads to the sidelines, Carl Domino becomes the front-runner to take on Patrick Murphy.
Despite the support of Allen West, Andel simply didn’t click. West hosted a fundraiser for Andel but she had less than $5,550 in the bank at the end of December. Murphy, on the other hand, had more than $1.75 million. After throwing in loads of his own cash, more than $279,500 by the end of December, Domino had more than $274,000 in the bank. None of the other Republican candidates were even close. Alan Schlesinger sunk $50,000 of his own money into his campaign and had around $27,400 in the bank at the end of December. Calvin Turnquest chipped in $10,100 to his campaign and had $10,125 on-hand. Conservative groups are expected to spend heavily against Murphy, but clearly the Democratic incumbent has a solid advantage here. No wonder Republicans were pining for Adam Hasner to move into the district to run against Murphy.
But Domino does bring some strengths to the table. He has an impressive background in money management and financial investment. Domino moved up the ranks in the Navy and served during the Vietnam War. He also strung together four wins for his Florida House seat. Despite Barack Obama’s coattails and outspending the Republican, Democrat Bryan Miller couldn’t knock off Domino in 2008.
This experience and his money edge should propel Domino over the rest of the Republican field, which isn’t exactly the strongest group of candidates. Domino took 31 percent of the vote against Magar back in the 2012 primary. Turnquest was a distant fourth with 7.5 percent. Schlesinger has spent most of his political life in Connecticut. While he did fine at the local and legislative levels, Schlesinger ran into trouble when he stepped up to run for Congress three times with no success. In 2006, Schlesinger was the Republican candidate to take on Joe Lieberman but he pulled less than 10 percent. Flirting with running for Congress in Florida back in 2008 and 2010 hasn’t improved Schlesinger’s reputation as a political gadfly. While there are other Republican candidates in the mix, so far none of them have done much to break out from the back of the pack.
Republicans continue to think they can beat Murphy and they have an edge over Democrats in the district. But moderate Republicans -- and they are many in the district -- and independents have gravitated toward Murphy. Domino recognizes this and is going all out to tie Murphy to the likes of Nancy Pelosi. Look for Domino and the other Republicans to play up this theme in months to come.
Domino could certainly be upended in the primary if Hasner or another major Republican jumps in, especially if they conclude that none of the current candidates can beat Murphy in November. West could also throw his weight behind another Republican candidate, though his support really didn’t seem to do much for Andel. For the moment, though, Domino is the favorite to win the primary and take on Murphy.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.