Republican Primary Field Ramping Up Against Patrick Murphy
Around the State
Republicans are starting to ramp up their operations against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., considered by some one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the nation because he represents a swing district. Murphy defeated Republican incumbent Allen West in 2012.
This week, former state Rep. Carl Domino kicked off his bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Murphy even as Democrats at the national level fired away at him.
“The values developing within each child’s character are the same ones that have been passed down from their immigrant ancestors,” Domino said. “But will they be able to continue to pass on this legacy of achievement to the next generation? When I observe the direction Washington is taking us, under the guidance of the Pelosi-Murphy team, I have to wonder. And I have to worry.
“The current crowd in Washington, under the banner of so-called ‘enlightened’ leadership, has elected to ignore the lessons of our legacy that have delivered unprecedented prosperity to so many," Domino continued. “Instead, they embrace an economic vision based on the failed policies of the socialist states of Europe. They would have us believe we’re better off with policy decisions being made by unelected government bureaucrats instead of trusting American citizens to exercise personal responsibility over our own lives. I challenge this notion. I reject the course we are on as a nation and I am completely committed to changing it. So today I come before you, and the people of our great community, to declare my intention of running for the United States Congress in Congressional District 18.”
A businessman and Vietnam veteran who rose to the rank of commander in the Navy Reserves, Domino served in the Florida House from 2002-2010, rising to become majority whip. He lost Republican primary bids for the Florida Senate in 2010 and to return to the Florida House in 2012.
Domino showcased the support of two former House colleagues in recent days. Former Florida House Speaker Pro Tempore Ron Reagan endorsed Domino on Friday and stressed the congressional hopeful’s fiscal conservatism.
“During the time I served as speaker pro tem of the Florida House of Representatives, Carl and I worked closely to lower taxes and promote economic development,” Reagan said. “I am pleased to endorse him for this important seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. His experience as a small-business man and knowledge of the capital markets are skill sets sorely lacking in Washington.”
But Democrats went after another old colleague who keynoted Domino’s campaign event on Monday -- former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who resigned her position last March after her name surfaced in an investigation of gambling. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) went after Domino on Tuesday, even as it crowed that Republicans were lagging behind Murphy in regard to fundraising.
“As they battle it out in a costly and expensive tea party primary, potential Republican candidates in Florida’s 18th Congressional District are getting desperate -- relying on Rick Scott’s disgraced, scandal-plagued former lieutenant governor to try and raise campaign cash,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DCCC, on Tuesday. “This Republican primary is quickly becoming a sprint to the right, as the potential challengers jostle to align themselves with the same dysfunctional fringe of their party responsible for the shutdown of our nation’s government.”
But Domino is not the only Republican hopeful ramping up operations. Juno Beach City Commissioner Ellen Andel has taken to the airwaves in recent weeks, releasing a Web video last week and running a radio ad at the end of last month. In the video, Andel draws a line between “elitists” running Washington and “we the people.” In the radio ad, Andel, who has West’s support, focuses on “American values” and hits “Washington politicians” on fiscal issues.
Also in the mix is former Tequesta City Councilman Calvin Turnquest who placed behind Domino in a Florida House primary back in 2012. Turnquest has been turning up the heat on Murphy in recent days, trying to connect him to Pelosi. “Patrick Murphy continues to vote in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats on policy issues,” Turnquest insisted on Monday. “It's time for a change in leadership ... it's time for the district to be represented by someone who will think independently, on more than ‘name that building’ bills and procedural votes.”
Other candidates running for the Republican nomination include Beverly Hires, a nurse who took less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote when she ran against state Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, in 2012 with no party affiliation; Ilya Katz, who took 1.1 percent of the vote when he ran against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., with no party affiliation in 2012; software developer Brian Lara; former Connecticut state Rep. Alan Schlesinger, the Republican candidate who ran against then-U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., back in 2006 and took less than 10 percent of the vote; and Nick Wukoson, a businessman and former police officer.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.