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Democrat Trails Allen West Into 18th Congressional District

February 7, 2012 - 6:00pm

Democrats can play musical chairs, too. But voters may not like their tune.

Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy is following Republican Rep. Allen West up Florida's east coast to take on the first-term congressman in his newly adopted district.

Murphy had planned to vie with Lois Frankel for the Democratic nomination in West's current South Florida district. Now, with West relocating to the Treasure Coast, Murphy figures to take the inside track in contending with West for the newly drawn 18th Congressional District.

"Allen West abandoned his constituents to find supposedly safer political ground," Murphy said in a statement Wednesday.

"Today, our campaign is putting Mr. West on notice: There is no safe district he can run to."

Murphy claimed the support of the Democratic hierarchy.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called Murphy "one of the most formidable fundraisers in the country. I am thrilled he is going to continue to take this fight to Allen West and confident he will defeat him in November."

Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said Murphy "has the support of the party and Democrats throughout Florida."

But Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, predicted West would have no problem this fall.

"He'll win by 20 points. He would have won by 10 points in his old district," said Dinerstein. "People up there on the Treasure Coast listen, as opposed to down here, where they are Democrats by religion."

Rep. Tom Rooney, who is leaving the Treasure Coast to run in the new 17th Congressional District, won re-election by nearly 30 points in 2010. Dinerstein said the new CD 18 is more conducive to Republicans than West's old stomping grounds in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

The chairman dismissed the prospect of the national Democrats pouring additional money into Murphy's CD 18 race.

"Only if they're dumber than I think they are," Dinerstein chuckled.

West spokeswoman Angela Melvin told Sunshine State News: "Congressman West is not commenting on Murphy. He is a non-issue."

West reportedly has raised more than $5 million for his re-election bid.

Murphy, in a statement, said he had raised more than $1.4 million as of last quarter and had "amassed over 15,000 online supporters."

"I got into this race for two main reasons," he continued.

"First, I believe the biggest threat to America, our troubled economy, is best addressed by having more people with my experience as a CPA and small-business owner in Congress.

"Secondly, Allen West and the tea party represent an enormous threat to the middle class, seniors, the environment and America's economic recovery. There is simply no one more divisive in Congress and its imperative we make sure he is not re-elected," Murphy said.

Allen Miller, Republican state committeeman from St. Lucie County, said Murphy "probably would not have won the nomination [had he stayed in the old district] so he moved here out of desperation."

"He may be in for a surprise if he thinks he's going to have a romp here. Democrats in this county tend to be more conservative than those in Broward."

Miller opined that Murphy's "carpetbag" of money might actually shortchange the Democrats' chances in November.

"His entrance will probably prevent runs by local Democrats, who might have had a better chance," he said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee wasted no time going after Murphy.

Patrick Murphy disparaged a decorated war veteran by calling him a 'coward' to get attention, but the real question remains clear -- who really is Patrick Murphy?

"His sense of entitlement may lead him to believe he deserves a seat in Congress, and that big-government knows what is best for Floridians, but thats far from reality," said NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin.

Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

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