Rep. Patrick Murphy walks fine line in “quintessential” swing district

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After winning the most expensive, high-profile House race of 2012, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is a person who has to walk a delicate line in a “quintessential swing district,” says the Tampa Bay Times.

Murphy has proven to be a shrewd fundraiser, celebrating his thirtieth birthday with four consecutive events in his run for Florida’s District 18. However, some pundits believe the outcome of the race could have been as much due to voters disliking Tea Party firebrand Allen West than Murphy’s campaigning skills.

“You did the country a favor,” Vice President Joe Biden famously said after showing up at a swearing-in party for Murphy.

Soon after winning the District 18 seat, which covers parts of Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties, the GOP moved against Murphy, who was a Republican until 2011. They persist in the confidence that the voter registration will benefit someone less provocative than West, who has not yet said if he will run to reclaim his seat.

In Murphy’s district, Republicans are 38 percent of voters; Democrats, 36 percent; independents, 26 percent. In such a politically divided region, a more mainstream Republican could make Murphy’s re-election a challenge. His balancing act seems to be microcosm of the Democrat’s problems in the face of a historically weak Republican party. 

The contentious—and some say outright nasty—2012 congressional race has made Murphy a sizeable target for the GOP, but he remains confident has the support of Republican moderates.

“I think a lot of them are very upset with their party,” Murphy told the Times, “whether it’s gun issues, immigration, a woman’s right to choose.”

What works in favor of the freshman congressional representative is his bipartisan voting record, reaching across the aisle and siding with Republicans on a number of issues. For example, Murphy voted to force the president to submit a budget that will balance within 10 years; he was also one of 19 Democrats to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline.

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.