In 2008, Patrick Murphy was a Republican who cut a $2,300 check to Mitt Romney. In 2016, he's a Democratic congressman running for U.S. Senate who just got the endorsement of Barack Obama. How things change.
This despite the fact that a poll released yesterday shows that while the majority of Florida's Democratic voters remain undecided, Rep. Alan Grayson has opened up an 11-point lead over Murphy. Grayson took the poll as proof he's in the lead and has already scheduled debates against Republican frontrunner Rep. David Jolly, despite the fact that neither has officially won his party's nomination yet and a plurality of voters on both sides remain undecided.
Florida's Democratic primary is shaping up to be the best political soap opera in the nation. Well, outside of the presidential primaries.
To back up: Murphy made a name for himself by defeating loathed Tea Party poster boy Allen West (remember him?) in a close race in a Palm Beach-area congressional district in 2012. When he announced his intention to run to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate, the state and national Democratic establishment quickly backed him. They cited Murphy's defeat of West as proof he could attract independent voters.
Today's announcement that Obama and Joe Biden are officially endorsing Murphy is the biggest sign yet that the party is throwing all of its weight behind him.
"Patrick has been a tireless champion for middle-class families and a defender of the economic progress that American workers and businesses have made," Obama says in the statement. "In Congress, he's fought to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, reform our criminal justice system, and protect a woman's right to choose. Floridians can count on Patrick Murphy to stand up for them every day as their next Senator."
"Patrick Murphy has the progressive values, the work ethic, and the youthful energy the U.S. Senate needs," Biden adds. "He'll work tirelessly to bring people together to make a difference for Florida's middle class."
Biden will visit Florida to campaign for Murphy later this month.
Yet Florida's Democratic voters haven't quite gotten in line.
Results from a Public Policy Polling survey yesterday show Grayson is in the lead.
"On the Democratic side, 45% of voters have no current preference, with Alan Grayson getting 33% and
Patrick Murphy 22%," the release reads. He's carved out noticeably large leads amongst both young Democrats and Hispanic Democrats.
Of course, a majority of those undecided voters may end up breaking heavily for Murphy. Only time will tell.
Grayson also has more name recognition. Forty-seven percent of Floridians (including independents and Republicans) have heard enough about him to have an opinion. The problem is that only 16 percent have a favorable opinion of the "loudmouthed liberal," while 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
Among Democrats, 21 percent have a favorable opinion of Grayson, while 21 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Murphy's split among Democrats is 21-16.
The good news for Democrats is that they lead all but one of the head-to-head matchups. Murphy leads David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Ron DeSantis by an average of seven points. Grayson, meanwhile, is polling ahead of Lopez-Cantera and DeSantis but trails Jolly.
However, Grayson has announced he's now the Democratic frontrunner. He's taken the odd step of teaming up with the polls' Republican frontrunner, David Jolly, to produce a series of head-to-head debates around the state before either actually wins his primary.
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A schedule hasn't been set, but none of the other candidates is invited.
That's, of course, just the latest in this weird soap opera. Here's a list of developments we didn't even get to touch on in case you haven't been keeping up. Don't worry — despite Jolly and Grayson's insistence that they're the frontrunners, the polls indicate that most people haven't been paying attention.
Grayson endorses Bernie Sander after putting his superdelegate vote up to an online poll.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tells Grayson to drop out of the race after questions were raised about the ethics of Grayson's hedge fund.
Grayson calls Murphy a "lickspittle pillock."
Murphy is named one of America's least effective congressmen.
Murphy has a tendency to break with his party on big issues, including voting for a bill to keep Syrian refugees out of America.
Actually, given this crazy back-and-forth, we can't blame the 45 percent of Florida Democrats who haven't yet made their minds.