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AFSCME Florida endorses Patrick Murphy in Florida senate contest

in 2017/Top Headlines by

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is endorsing Jupiter Congressman Patrick Murphy in the race for U.S. Senate in Florida in 2016.

“We believe that Congressman Murphy is the best suited for our agenda in Washington D.C. and will help move working families forward,” said Andy Madtes, AFSCME’s executive director, on a conference call set up by the Murphy campaign on Thursday afternoon.

When asked if it was a close call for his union’s 15,000-plus dues paying members in Florida to chose Murphy over Congressman Alan Grayson, Madtes called it a very “thoughtful decision.” He emphasized that he and his members like Grayson and the endorsement of Murphy was in no way a reflection of anything negative toward the fierce progressive representative from the Orlando area, but more about the candidate that who the union feels can move their agenda in the Senate, and who could do it best.

It’s another feather in Murphy’s cap in his contested battle against Grayson for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Two weeks ago, Murphy earned the backing of another major union, the Teamsters Joint Council 75. He’s also being supported by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

In addition, much of the Democratic Party establishment — both inside Florida and in Washington D.C., is backing Murphy over Grayson in the August, 2016 primary to determine the party’s nominee for the open Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio. Prominent Florida Democrats like Charlie Crist, Alex Sink and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn are all backing Murphy.

Nationally, a number of Democratic senators are also backing his candidacy, including Missouri’s Claire McCaskill and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar. So is former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank.

“This is about the record of standing up for rights on the job,” said AFSCME’s Madtes. “This is about his commitment to strengthening Social Security and Medicare, this is about his plan to tackle income inequality, and to ensure our economy works for everyone, this is about our future of our state and our country.”

Grayson has hammered Murphy on the campaign trail, saying that the South Florida congressman “wants to cut Social Security, cut Medicare,” a charge that Murphy vehemently denies.

“At the end of the day, so many people I talk to are so concerned in Florida and really around the country that we have a middle class that’s disappearing,” Murphy said on a conference call. “We have income inequality that is continuing to go in the wrong direction. And when I look at what built that middle-class in the first place, so much of that were strong unions … we’ve got to get back to those priorities of workers rights and better wages, rebuilding that middle class. “

Although Murphy leads Grayson in the number of name endorsements and in fundraising, he is neck-and-neck with Grayson in most polls for the lead in next August’s primary election.

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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