Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham has endorsed Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.
“To be a U.S Senator requires a number of talents, one of which is to be an effective ambassador for your state in Washington, particularly a state that has as diverse a population, economy, range of interests, international relationships, as does Florida,” Graham said in a conference call organized by the Murphy campaign. “That ambassadorial role is extremely important. I’m confident that Patrick, with his knowledge, energy and his demeanor, will be a very effective representative for Florida interests in Washington.”
Murphy said he was “proud and quite frankly, humbled to receive this endorsement.”
It was hardly a surprise. The Murphy camp issued a statement alerting reporters on Friday that the two men would be making a joint announcement on Monday morning. Graham now joins a growing list of big-name Democrats who are backing Murphy over fellow Florida Congressman Alan Grayson in the race for the seat being vacated by Marco Rubio.
That list includes Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid, as well as 46 Democratic lawmakers in Congress.
Revered in Florida Democratic politics, the Graham name would seem to carry more weight than arguably any that have come before it, including from the president.
But Grayson doesn’t think so.
The outsider in the race says it’s simply another case of “the establishment supporting the establishment,” and he questions how powerful the Graham name actually is in Florida Democratic circles these days.
“If you take a look at the polling for those who pitted his daughter against me and Patrick, his daughter came in a very, very poor third in that hypothetical race, so I don’t think that a lot of voters would be influenced by that at all,” he says.
That was a reference to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted last summer, which showed that Gwen Graham, the Tallahassee-based Congresswoman and daughter of Bob, came in a distant third in a hypothetical matchup vs. Grayson and Murphy.
“My endorsement is totally positive towards Patrick,” insisted Bob Graham when asked about why he is endorsing Murphy over Grayson. “I’m not making this endorsement in the context of picking among several. I am very strong for Patrick Murphy and the qualities that he has, which I think will be very appealing to Florida voters in November of this year.”
Both men are backing Hillary Clinton for president this fall, and think that the presence of Donald Trump on the top of the GOP ticket in Florida will only enhance Murphy’s chances of making it to the Senate.
“I think that adds to the number of the reasons to be optimistic about Patrick Murphy,” said Graham.
“There are a sizable chunk of Republicans that are supportive of Mr. Trump’s message,” said Murphy, who added, “quite frankly that scares me.”