Patrick Murphy's TV Spot Can Only Bump Up His Lead

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

One of the ongoing political dramas in Florida this year has been Patrick Murphy’s run to the political center and how he’s outflanked the field of Republicans running against him. 

Murphy kept on that theme as he started running a new TV commercial -- the first of the campaign season for him. In the ad, Murphy claims the political center, calling for more solutions and less partisanship in Washington.

In the ad, Murphy tries to contrast himself with Allen West, the man he beat in 2012. West is a fiery conservative and a favorite of the tea party, and during his term in Congress often seemed more concerned with the national stage. Murphy has worked the district and, when he has stepped into the limelight, has often been happy to push against the Democrat leadership.

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Two weeks out, the Republican primary field is full of second- and third-string candidates who the GOP is finding it hard to rally behind. The increasing consensus is that Carl Domino and Alan Schlesinger are the favorites with the rest of the field as dark horses. Increasingly Republican and conservative groups have discounted the possibility of beating Murphy, who plans to spend $1.4 million in TV ads -- a figure none of the Republicans can hope to match.

Still, Domino and Schlesinger are going to hit the airwaves in the days to come. Domino is pretty well-known in the area from his time in the Florida House but he’s not exactly the ideal candidate. From his years in the Legislature, Domino is the closest thing to a front-runner for the Republican nomination but he certainly has his flaws. After eight years in the Florida House, Domino is coming off two straight political defeats, having lost to Ellyn Bogdanoff in a state Senate primary in 2010 and losing to MaryLynn Magar in a Florida House primary two years later. Still, Domino has an impressive background in politics, the military and in the private sector, and his experience does contrast with the youthful Murphy.

Domino is also the only Republican who made the ballot by petition. He’s also been willing to use his own funds to build a war chest, a not inconsiderable factor especially as Republican donors and groups seem willing to spend their cash in other contests. Domino plans to continue to tie Murphy to Nancy Pelosi, a line of attack that the Democrat congressman looks ready to shut down before it gets started.

Schlesinger has also thrown his own money behind his campaign. He plans to go after Domino in the days to come, a subtle sign that he thinks Domino is his main primary opponent. Schlesinger is trying to hit Domino from the right, with commercials noting that Domino backed in-state tuition for illegals. But Schlesinger is also flawed, with more success in his many years in Connecticut politics than he ever achieved in Florida.

The other candidates seem to be less of factors. Brian Lara still has some of the money he’s loaned his campaign but there are no signs he plans to do much on radio and TV in the last two weeks of the primary. After bombing against Magar in the primary back in 2012, Calvin Turnquest simply never clicked and, while he got Red State’s endorsement, he went off to Texas in the closing days of the campaign to get it. The other candidates -- Beverly Hires and Nick Wukoson -- aren’t major parts of the equation.

It’s telling that major candidates like Adam Hasner and West stayed out of this race, even though it's a district where the GOP can be competitive. As the Republican candidates scramble in the next two weeks to win the primary, they’re facing the knowledge that whoever wins will be a long shot against Murphy -- and won’t be able to rely on much support from the national party and its allies.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (6)

Stephen Abbott
10:47AM AUG 15TH 2014
"Correctly Attuned" is right. We (the Brian Lara campaign) have been up on the radio for about two weeks now on several stations in the district and are about to put up a TV ad in the final week of the primary.

It would be nice if the reporter had reached out to us rather than to have made assumptions. Only Domino, Schlesinger and Brian Lara have the money to buy media in these final weeks. Again, that's evident from the FEC reports, so this reporter should really not have made assumptions and put his favorites in the "first" tier.

And that Murphy ad is hilarious! He votes 85% of the time with Pelosi and he's "bi-partisan"?? Really? Yeah, that will put him over the top with low-information voters.
Correctly Attuned
8:52PM AUG 14TH 2014
The article seems grossly out of touch, considering I've heard Lara's radio ads (one which slams Domino hard) on the radio about five times. Word is, in more plugged in reports, Turnquest's campaign manager left and he's unable to run ads. Domino's ads sound bland and pointless, avoiding tough issues. Why? Perhaps this reporter can leave Tallahassee and find out.
Community Voter
9:33PM AUG 12TH 2014
This article seems totally off and not in touch with what is happening on the ground in the district. Calvin Turnquest and Domino are the front runners in the Republican race, and in that order. Turnquest is obviously the candidate that can clearly beat Murphy in the general election. A look at the recent Republican endorsements nationally and locally should tell the story, with Turnquest now probably being recognized as the strongest candidate to win the primary, and to unseat the incumbent.

The writer appears to have written this article as a member of the Murphy camp, or wishfully thinking about who the Democrats hope they can run against. It is obviously not a well researched or knowledgable account of the true state of the race.
3:10PM AUG 17TH 2014
Iv seen Dominos, Slesingers and Laras ads. Iv never actually heard of Turnquest. Iv seen Hires signs, and have recently seen some Nick signs. Iv seen Turnquests name on the ballet but other than that... yeeeaaaa lol. I think Domino, Slesinger and Lara are the front runners. They seem to want it the most. Also, maybe if I vote for Domino, he'l let me drive one if his cars :D'''''''' haha. In my opinion, the (2) Front Runners are Schlesinger and Lara. Domino might have the cash but that won't mean much against Patrick Murphy. Plus, having an super old rich guy with 6 sports cars and a wife 30 years younger then him.... The media will have a field day with him...
Correctly Attuned
10:06AM AUG 15TH 2014
Calvin a frontrunner? On what basis? He has no signs, no campaign manager (he walked out a couple of weeks back, owed over $35k) and no money (he has an improbable negative balance on his FEC report.) He is unable to move forward in this campaign, and may end up where he was last time he took on Domino - last place.
11:39PM AUG 12TH 2014
What is this based on? The article seems fairly unbiased..and while your comment may be true, that comment seems far more biased to Turnquest than the article is to Murphy.

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