Politics

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Rep. Patrick Murphy ‘Most Vulnerable Democrat’

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 7, 2013 10:30 AM
Patrick Murphy

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the product of University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato, is giving an early season assessment of the 2014 congressional map forecasts that the current national mode could result in modest gains for Democrats.

Modest meaning the GOP should retain its majority in the House.

In the report, when it comes to the most vulnerable Democrat, Sabato expects the eyes of the national Republican National Committee to remain on freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.

“Murphy’s victory over Tea Party-favorite Allen West (R) still seems remarkable, given that Mitt Romney actually won the district,” the Crystal Ball report states.

“That speaks to West’s immense liabilities; a different Republican could make Murphy a one-termer given that he too has his own liabilities.”

The liabilities alluded to, according to the report, focus on Murphy’s nearly decade-old arrest for disorderly intoxication and possession of a fake ID at a Miami Beach nightclub.

Meanwhile, the GOP in Florida could also be facing some tough choices in other districts.

Under the heading, “Possible retirement that Republicans dread,” is U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Tampa.

“Democrats specifically targeted Young almost the second after the 2012 elections ended, surely as a way to pressure the longest-serving House Republican to step aside,” the Crystal Ball stated.

“If Young runs, he's probably fine, even though his 58 percent victory in 2012 was the second-smallest of his 22 general election victories; if he doesn't, the seat -- which President Obama narrowly won -- would probably be a toss-up.”

And while there hasn’t been a hint she is slowing down, the runner up for dreaded retirement is U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

“Notice that Ros-Lehtinen isn’t even listed on the competitive race chart; that’s because she’s probably unbeatable if she runs,” the Crystal Ball notes.

“But if she were to retire, the seat would skyrocket to the top of the Democrats’ list of targets, given that Obama did better in this district than he did nationally. Ros-Lehtinen, serving her 12th term, is only 60 -- much younger than the octogenarian Young, and thus seemingly less likely to retire -- though she just lost her chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee because of GOP term limits.”

The UV product comes with caveats, as it usually does, this time noting that “Democrats also had a lead in the generic ballot at this point in the 2010 cycle, and we all know how that turned out -- the Democrats’ generic ballot lead could just reflect an afterglow from the election. Or it could mean something more, given the weakness of the Republican brand nationally.”


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

 


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