Republicans Backing Away From Challenging Patrick Murphy

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 10, 2014 3:55 AM
Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

Despite winning one of the closest congressional races in 2012, Patrick Murphy is increasingly in the clear for 2014 from Republicans as events of this week clearly show.  

After beating Allen West by a slim margin, Murphy was supposed to be a top target for the GOP. Republicans have a slight edge in the district and, on paper, the right candidate could win back the seat for the GOP, especially in a nonpresidential year.

But the right candidate never quite materialized, even as six candidates still run for the Republican nomination. West closed the door on a rematch with Murphy and threw his support to Ellen Andel, who promptly pulled out after she couldn’t raise enough money. Republicans pleaded for Adam Hasner to move into the district but they never could lure him to run against Murphy.

This left the likes of Carl Domino, Beverly Hires, Brian Lara, Alan Schlesinger, Calvin Turnquest and Nick Wukoson in the Republican primary. Domino is probably the best known of the candidates from his time in the Florida House, but he’s coming off two consecutive losses in a state Senate primary in 2010 and a state House primary in 2012. Hires and Turnquest did even worse than Domino in the state House race in 2012. Schlesinger is better known for his career in Connecticut politics while Lara and Wukoson are political novices, not exactly a bad thing to be in Florida as recent Republican primaries have shown. While the second quarter fundraising figures aren’t in yet, most of the Republicans have been relying on their own money to compete and none of them is close to catching Murphy in the money chase.

Things got even more dreary for the Republicans this week. The NRCC released its final round of “Young Guns” who have the funds and momentum to knock off Democrat incumbents or pick up open seats. None of the hopefuls looking to take down Murphy made an appearance on the list -- a bad sign for what is supposed to be a competitive district.

Even worse for their chances of beating Murphy, Republicans canceled a forum with the six primary candidates after less than 25 of the party faithful paid for advance tickets. With even the party activists losing interest in the primary, it’s no wonder the NRCC and conservative groups are increasingly staying out of it.

Unlike West, who never bothered to move to the middle, Murphy has been able to grab the center even as the Republican candidates try to paint him as a liberal with connections to Nancy Pelosi. On a range of matters, Murphy has broken with Beltway Democrats and has received more than his share of publicity for it. Murphy has also kept his eye pretty glued to the district. He is looking tougher to beat by the week.

With seven weeks to go until the primary, the Republican candidates will try their best to turn things around. But with the GOP starting to tune out at the national and local level, this is increasingly becoming a missed opportunity.

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

Comments (8)

Nick Wukoson
9:49AM JUL 23RD 2014
I am one of those 6 candidates and while I appreciate how hard it must be to follow everything down here from Tallahassee, the reason the 9/12 forum was cancelled was because it was both right after the holiday and there were multiple forums both prior to and after it. Had nothing to do with the "party faithful" not getting involved as they are everywhere, at events everyday.

In regards to the NRCC and others not getting involved, well one can only assume they are looking at the money only and not the actual candidates. As the one candidate with specific plans to address the wasteful spending and to restore real transparency, as well as plans addressing our VA issues and Wounded Warrior initiatives, I have drawn some great endorsements from national Tea Party groups, the Conservative Party of FL and local senior military endorsements. I am also addressing the abuse and waste on BOTH SIDES of the aisle and because of that, I am drawing support from many Independents and even Democrats. There is no question I can and will take back the Independent votes and win the general. My biggest hurdle is taking down empty establishment candidates with money in their pockets trying to buy their way to DC.

God Bless! Nick Wukoson
PickNick2014 dot com
Stephen Abbott
11:16AM JUL 15TH 2014
Um, excuse me, but this article about candidates "backing off" is extremely biased and makes no sense, since it lists SIX candidates who are in the race seeking to bump off Murphy - who is NOT a "centrist", but - sorry Jeff - does indeed vote with Nancy Pelosi 84% of the time.

The overall tone of this "news" article reads like an editorial. Shame on Sunshine News for posting such a biased piece.
Marjorie Garland
6:08AM JUL 11TH 2014
As a card carrying Republican, I say, "Yeah!" Patrick Murphy is the best politician this area has had in a long time. He is young, energetic, and he cares about our community. He got my vote last time and will get my vote again. It's not always about the Party. Patrick Murphy cares about the Treasure Coast and that's my home.
1:28AM JUL 11TH 2014
Patricia Lavins
11:20AM JUL 10TH 2014
The same situation seems to be occurring in the 8th Congressional District. There is no indication that Bill "Birther" Posey is receiving big bucks from the GOP. As he has done in his past elections, Bill "Birther" Posey seems to be keeping a very low profile and only speaks to the hard right loyalist in his small circle His challenger, Gabriel Rothblatt is gaining momentum in a community where Bill "Birther" Posey's vote to shut down the government caused a financial burden on thousands of contract workers at the Kennedy Space Center.
C Breeze
9:50AM JUL 10TH 2014
Patrick Murphy is the WRONG choice Florida. He didn't "defeat" Allen West, "Gerrymandering" defeated West. Patrick Murphy is what is referred to in the military as a "light hit" . Murphy has dreams of "inheriting" Bill Nelson's Senate seat in 2016 (which would be "same old, same old").
[ Florida: READ- "AMERICA, Imagine A World Without Her" by Dinesh D'Souza; or go see the movie of the same name in local theaters NOW...]
Patricia Lavins
11:25AM JUL 10TH 2014
C Breeze is writing fantasy. There is ZERO evidence that Patrick Murphy wants to be a Senator in 2016. Also, Senator Nelson was just re-elected in 2012 and will serve his entire six year term. The 2016 election will be about the re-election of Marco Rubio who is only in the Senate today because his election involved a three person race. Marco Rubio's association with the Party of No makes it inevitable that he would lose if he ran for re-election in 2016.
C Breeze
2:49PM JUL 10TH 2014
"Picky, Picky Patricia".... OK, mea culpa...Nelsons term is up in 2018...excuse my typo. Now, let's deal with YOUR version of fantasy:
Are you in Murphy's mind, or did he tell you he wouldn't be interested in Nelson's seat (WHEN THE TERM COMPLETES Patricia), intensify your 'research' Patty girl; YOUR 'fantasies' regarding your political assertions do however reveal a 'hired campaign toadie' with a genuine rabid, ongoing hatred for Representative Posey (R-15) which comes across in all of your postings along with your liberal belief that if you say you hate Posey enough times it will come true, thereby validating YOUR fantasy. Own up Patricia, whose campaign is paying you to dirty yourself up ?

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