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Mitch Perry Report for 8.4.16 — Patrick Murphy shuts down the debate

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Well, so much for the free flow of ideas inside the Florida Democratic Party.

Patrick Murphy announced yesterday he would not engage in any debates with Alan Grayson or Pam Keith in advance of the Aug. 30 Senate primary election, citing allegations of domestic abuse charged by Grayson’s ex-wife last week.

“Over the last week, I have heard from many people, including survivors of domestic abuse, that Alan Grayson’s continued presence in this race is an insult to the countless Floridians whose lives have been affected by this kind of violence,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Alan Grayson has refused to address these issues,” he continued. “Alan Grayson’s words and actions have disqualified him from public service, and I cannot in good conscience give him a platform to promote himself and his campaign. As a result, I will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson.”

Shortly after that statement was released, Grayson DID address the issue extensively, as reported by the Miami Herald’s Amy Sherman.

Concurrently, some of Murphy’s supporters, like state Rep. Audrey Gibson and recently elected state Sen. Lauren Book, issued statements backing their candidate’s decision to bow out against Grayson because of the allegations.

Grayson’s campaign manager, Michael Ceraso, accused Murphy of exploiting “this very personal family struggle for his own political gain,” adding, “while Patrick has actually been caught lying about himself and what he’s done, Alan has discussed these and any other allegations openly with the press.”

It should be noted Murphy previously had refused to participate in debates proposed by Florida Public radio stations WMFE, WLRN and WUSF, as well as a combined effort by Bay News 9/News 13 in Orlando. He had finally agreed to do one — and only one — debate on WFTV-TV Channel 9 in Orlando.

In a statement, WFTV Executive Producer Anthony Colarossi said: “the voters of Florida are the big losers here as they will be deprived the chance to hear Mr. Murphy and Mr. Grayson share their vision of Florida’s future.”

Now I know that the entirety of Florida and D.C. is rooting for Murphy to be the nominee to take on Marco Rubio this fall, but wouldn’t it better for all involved to have the Jupiter representative get a little debate practice in, if nothing else, before he steps in the ring with Rubio in a few months?

It seems those hurt by this are undecided Florida Democratic electorate who would like to see and hear the two candidates debate the issues straight up. But that’s apparently not going to happen.

In other news …

Talk about an unwanted endorsement: In Florida’s liberal Senate District 19 race, the NRA is sending out mailers telling voters to support Darryl Rouson in that contest.

The Senate District 19 Democratic primary is getting more heated by the day, as Ed Narain and Augie Ribeiro exchanged their thoughts about each other.

St. Pete Polls released three big statewide surveys yesterday: One shows Patrick Murphy with a big edge over Alan Grayson in the Democratic Senate race — one of the few head-to-head surveys of the two main candidates this summer.

It also shows Democrats are pretty focused on the presidential and Senate races, if they’re paying attention at all, because when asked who they like for governor, 38 percent chose Charlie Crist.

Meanwhile, Amendment 4, the solar power amendment on this August’s primary ballot, is winning big.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman isn’t keen on the Public Transportation Commission raising the fees on Uber and Lyft drivers operating outside of the PTC’s jurisdiction.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted a number of House Republican candidates for being silent on the whole Trump/Khan family controversy, but David Jolly did issue a statement over the weekend.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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