Patrick Murphy's TV Spot Can Only Bump Up His Lead
Around the State
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.