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Patrick Murphy Faces Increasingly Crowded Field of GOP Foes

October 7, 2013 - 6:00pm

The field of Republicans looking to defeat U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., next year expanded as former Tequesta Vice Mayor Calvin Turnquest entered the race.

Born in the Bahamas but residing in the Sunshine State since entering the University of Miami in 1989, Turnquest has served three terms on the Tequesta City Council. He has also served as the executive director of the Council For Concerned Bahamians Abroad and was active with the Palm Beach and the state League of Cities. Turnquest has been active with both the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

But Turnquest stumbled in 2012 when he ran in the Republican primary for an open Florida House seat representing parts of Martin and Palm Beach counties in Tallahassee. With 7.5 percent of the vote, Turnquest placed fourth in the five-candidate primary, far behind MaryLynn Magar who won with 42 percent of the vote.

In the meantime, as Turnquest enters the contest, the Republicans who are already off and running are weighing in on the federal shutdown and throwing jabs at Democrats in the Beltway.

Former state Rep. Carl Domino, who finished in second place against Magar back in 2012, ripped into President Barack Obama and Murphy on Tuesday over the federal shutdown.

Where are the leaders we elected to represent us? Domino demanded in an email sent out to supporters on Tuesday. Why hasn't there been a dialogue between the two chambers of Congress and the White House? Why hasn't legislation been passed to keep all essential government programs running? Why haven't members of Congress suspended their pay when their staffs and other government workers have been furloughed? Why does President Obama believe he shouldn't have to deal with the shutdown?

And where is Patrick Murphy during all of this? Domino continued. He's desperately trying to align himself with House Republicans because even he knows the Democrats have messed up big time. But that's not good enough for me -- and it shouldn't be for you, either. We need a leader we can count on to fight for fiscal sanity all the time, not just when it's convenient.

Domino tried to showcase his credentials which he insisted could help in Congress. As a businessman, I know firsthand that nothing -- and I mean nothing -- gets done unless both parties are talking, Domino wrote. But Washington has proven itself incapable of having a civil dialogue, let alone a productive debate. It's time for new leadership. America can't wait any longer.

While Domino stressed his experience, one of his Republican rivals, Juno Beach Vice President Pro Tempore Ellen Andel, compared the situation in Washington to a scene from a popular childrens story.

The standoff in D.C. reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story about the Zax that I read to my daughters when they were young, Andel posted on Facebook on Sunday. One day in the Prairie of Pax a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax run into each other. Both are trying to get to their desired locations, but neither will move out of the way to let the other one pass. While both stand facing each other too proud to compromise, neither one will budge. At all. Ever. End of story.

The conflict in Congress, however, is not about pride, but fairness, Andel added. In a constitutional republic, laws apply to everyone, and its only fair that the Affordable Care Act apply to all -- no waivers, no special exemptions!

Also seeking the Republican nomination are conservative activist Ilya Katz and former Connecticut state Rep. Alan Schlesinger who was the Republican candidate who ran against then-U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006. Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is a possible candidate. Despite losing in a close contest to Murphy last year, former U.S. Rep. Allen West has closed the door on running again though he has left open the possibilities of a political comeback in 2016.

Republicans do have a slight registration advantage in this district covering Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, though as Murphys victory over West shows, Democrats are a force here. Whoever emerges from the Republican primary could have an uphill battle as Murphy continues to assemble an impressive war chest. Earlier this week, Murphy announced he raised $540,000 in the third quarter and has $1.4 million on hand.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinDerbySSN.

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