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Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Rep. Alan Williams endorse Patrick Murphy for Senate

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At a joint press conference at Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee, Mayor Andrew Gillum and Rep. Alan Williams both offered ebullient endorsements of Congressman Patrick Murphy‘s bid for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Marco Rubio.

Evoking Murphy’s can-do brand of bipartisanship – as well as the “North Florida Way” emblematic of Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who is publicly friendly with all three aforementioned young Democratic pols – Gillum began with an old chestnut about the pragmatic task of governing.

“There are no Democratic potholes, and no Republican way to pave a street,” said Gillum in his extemporaneous remarks.

“I think that’s what our generation represents,” said Murphy, referring to Gillum’s sentiment. “I talk to colleagues and so many different Floridians and start hearing one common theme, which is that they’re tired of partisanship, they’re tired of the nonsense.”

“I decided that I want to run for the U.S. Senate because I think I can make an even bigger difference on so many issues I’m passionate about. Whether that’s the environment, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and supporting the middle class and making sure that they grow. That’s what sets our country apart.”

Murphy went on to express his hope that the GOP-controlled Legislature would come to an agreement to expand Medicaid for Florida’s 800,000 uninsured.

“It’s not exactly what we mapped out,” said Murphy of the state Senate’s proposal to enact a so-called ‘Florida solution’ to draw down Medicaid funds, “but something is better than nothing.”

Williams joined his fellows to a degree in waxing across-the-aisle throughout the presser, held in a balmy reception space within the Bronough Street Democratic office, but also hit a nostalgic partisan note.

“I remember when we had both Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, two Democrats representing us in the Senate from Florida, and we envision that going forward and for years to come,” said Williams.

Gillum referred jokingly to the cadre of officials as the “new Democratic leadership” in Florida, but Murphy’s ascension to the Senate really would mark a sea change for Florida’s Democrats. Their sole representative in the Senate since 2005 has been the septuagenerian Nelson, more a vestige of the Graham-Askew Democratic “golden years” than a fellow traveler of, say, President Barack Obama‘s spectacular rise.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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