Okay, good candidates lose elections too. But it’s much easier for bad ones to do so. And the Democrats are putting up a couple of beauties for the Florida U.S. Senate seat now held by Marco Rubio.
Formerly red Florida may be purple now, with demographics pushing the Sunshine State slowly but surely in the blue direction. But the two Democrats with the best chances of winning the Senate nomination this year have serious flaws. This should make things easier for Rubio, who is likely to prevail over his challenger, Manatee County builder and Donald Trump impersonator, Carlos Beruff, who has spent a bundle on his campaign but gained little traction.
Take two-term Congressman Patrick Murphy (please), whose district includes all or parts of Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties. He leads Orlando area Congressman Alan Grayson in most polls, and was whooped up early on by Florida Democrats as a first-rate candidate with an excellent chance of taking the Florida Senate seat for that party. (Florida’s other U.S. Senator is Democrat Bill Nelson, in that office since 2001.) But in recent weeks it has been disclosed that Murphy, a moderate who was once a Republican, has grossly exaggerated his business credentials and achievements. It remains to be seen if this bothers Democratic primary voters.
In political ads, appearances, and media interviews, Murphy has described himself as a CPA and a small business owner. As has been reported now by numerous Florida news outlets, Murphy has never held a CPA license in Florida. He passed the CPA exam in Colorado (after nine tries, the CBS affiliate in Miami reports), easier than Florida’s with lower educational requirements than Florida. He has never worked or lived in Colorado. His Florida work for Deloitte and Touche was as an audit assistant.
As for being a small business owner and operator, the businesses Murphy has been involved in were established and bankrolled by his wealthy developer father.
Murphy also put it out that his company (Dad’s company, turns out) had a good deal to do with the Gulf of Mexico cleanup after the BP oil spill in 2010. His bio at one point said that he and his company spent “six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading cleanup efforts.” Business and government records show a much smaller and briefer involvement. Murphy and his campaign have bobbed and weaved when asked for details on how it was he led cleanup efforts.
The 33-year-old Murphy, apparently a serial exaggerator, also claimed to have earned “degrees” in finance and accounting. Actually he has one degree in business administration with concentrations in accounting and finance. So perhaps he’s not the wunderkind Florida Democrats thought they had on their hands.
These are the kinds of things primary opponent Grayson might take advantage of if he didn’t have a good deal of baggage himself. The liberal and bombastic Grayson makes Donald Trump seen retiring and reticent by comparison. He describes himself as “the congressman with guts” and claims to be one of the few members of Congress who can get things done. “I’m a professional and I’m surrounded by amateurs,” Grayson modestly said of his congressional service to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board.
The 58-year-old Bronx native made a packet in the private sector after graduating from Harvard and before running for Congress. He has been married three times (his second marriage was annulled after 24 years when it was found that his wife was still married to her first husband when she married Grayson) and has five children — Skye, Star, Sage. Storm, and Stone. In 2014 he reported a net worth of between $14 and $105 million.
To whatever liabilities his liberal voting record and over-the-top style might be must be added recent media stories that Grayson’s wife called police twice while the couple live in Northern Virginia and twice again in Orlando alleging that Grayson abused her physically. Grayson denies the allegations, and he and his lawyer say in fact the wife was the assaulter.
Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be Senate Democratic leader next year after Harry Reid retires, took the charges seriously enough to tell Politico that Grayson “ought to do the right thing and drop out.” Various Florida Democrats have suggested the same. Various Grayson campaign staffers have bailed. Grayson says no; he’s in. Not his style to drop out. And style does seem to be the issue with Grayson (and, perhaps, though we don’t know for sure, violence towards a former spouse – whether or not he’s guilty of spouse abuse, there would seem to be a solid case of child abuse considering the names he hung, or allowed to be hung, on his children).
There is a third candidate in the race, labor lawyer Pam Keith. She has been campaigning for months but is little known outside of Miami where she lives. She has gotten almost no traction so far. But the way the news has been running about her two opponents…
Marco Rubio must enjoy keeping up with Florida political news these days.