Rep. Gayle Harrell considering run for Congress, would challenge Patrick Murphy for CD 18

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Republicans are buzzing about Florida’s U.S. House District 18 seat set for election in 2014. When Allen West announced Wednesday that he will not bid to return to Congress next term, early predictions are pitting State Rep. Gayle Harrell against Jupiter Democrat incumbent Patrick Murphy. Harrell has come out publicly stating that she is carefully considering running for the seat. 

This would not be Harrell’s first run at Congress. In 2008, she lost in a close three-way primary race to Tom Rooney who won by less than two percent of the vote. 

Harrell spent 2000 to 2008 as a Florida House member before reaching term limits and was re-elected in 2010. 

As for running for Congress in 2014, “It’s something I would have to seriously think about and pray about before I make that decision,” Harrell said Thursday. 

Murphy’s last run had him participating in the country’s most expensive congressional race, opposing West for the U.S. House seat that encompassed Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach. Murphy won by 2,000 votes. 

It appears that Murphy is already gearing up to outspend whomever his opponent might be. With a $314,230 balance in in his account as of late November, Murphy has already begun his email fundraising campaign for re-election. 

It’s not likely that the 2014 race will attract the same big campaign funds as seen in the previous race against West, yet Murphy still has an edge with fundraising as the incumbent. He is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and can garner campaign support from banking and insurance industries. 

Meanwhile, Harrell has not yet formally committed to the race for the Republicans, but she reports that “Her phone has not stopped chirping” since West’s announcement and says that she is considering running for the seat. 

As for West, while he reports that political campaigns are not in his plans for the near future, he says he intends to continue hosting conservative on-line TV shows

Via Daphne Taylor Street. You can contact Daphne at daphnestreet@daphnestreet.com

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.