Florida Rep. Murphy Decides Not to Challenge Rubio For Senate Seat Rep. Stephanie Murphy (House TV via AP)
By Brian Freeman | Monday, 24 May 2021 05:03 PM
Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced on Monday that she plans to seek reelection to her Orlando-area seat and will not run for U.S. Senate, Politico reported.
The decision appeared to be inevitable after fellow Democratic Florida Rep. Val Demings recently indicated that she will likely challenge incumbent Republican Marco Rubio.
“The reality is that Marco Rubio will not be an easy opponent, especially if it’s on the heels of a bruising primary where Democrats spend millions attacking each other instead of using those millions to build the infrastructure we desperately need to win,” Murphy said. “We’ve had too many close losses in Florida, and so I wanted to use my experience from winning tough races to help the party prepare itself.”
In addition to seeking reelection to the House, Murphy intends to help Florida Democrats with voter registration, organizing and bolstering the grassroots.
She stressed that Democrats need to do a better job at unity, saying that “While I will not be running statewide in 2022, I will work to help the Democratic Party build towards statewide success. We must start now with unity of effort if we want the state to be ready to put the White House, a Senate seat and more state and local races in the Democratic column in 2024.”
Murphy’s decision also came after Aramis Ayala, a former Orlando-area prosecutor, indicated last week that she would likely not challenge Demings for Senate and instead would make a bid to replace Demings in her House seat.
However, there are still some Democratic political newcomers who might challenge Demings for the party’s nomination, with former Rep. Alan Grayson also considering doing so.
Murphy, considered a moderate, pulled off a major upset in 2016 by defeating 24-year Republican incumbent John Mica in 2016 and then fairly easily winning reelection in 2018 and 2020 despite her district being considered evenly split between the two parties, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
However, GOP-controlled redistricting this year could dramatically redraw her district.
Murphy launched a listening tour of the state in February to gauge her chances for a Senate bid when Demings appeared to be noncommittal to running against Rubio and was considering a campaign against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
But Demings became increasingly upset by Republican “obstruction” in Washington, making a Senate bid more attractive and decided she would have a better chance to defeat Rubio.
National Democrats also had been encouraging her to run against Rubio.
Murphy’s decision to stay in the House race is also a relief to Democrats, who have narrow margins in the chamber and were concerned about the loss of a congresswoman who had experience winning in tough, competitive seats.
Demings praised Murphy in a statement, according to the Sentinel.
“Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy is one of Florida’s outstanding public servants,” she said. “We were sworn in to Congress together and I am honored to work alongside her every day for the people of Central Florida.”