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Patrick Murphy, Karl Rove PAC Tangle in Race to Replace Marco Rubio

September 24, 2015 - 11:30am
Patrick Murphy and Karl Rove
Patrick Murphy and Karl Rove

A PAC with ties to Republican strategist Karl Rove waded into the U.S. Senate race in Florida on Thursday, demanding Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., back more presidential debates. 

American Crossroads urged Murphy to pressure U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to agree to more presidential debates. Opponents of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, particularly former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., are calling for more debates than the currently scheduled six. Wasserman Schultz backed Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. 

“Young Patrick Murphy has been more follower than leader in his unremarkable career as a politician, but perhaps now that he is trying to pander to his base, there is an issue on which he can take a stand – the Democrats’ growing debate problem,” American Crossroads noted on Thursday. “Specifically, Murphy can join other liberals and activists (and even Nancy Pelosi) and demand that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz schedule more debates.

“And if Murphy agrees with Wasserman Schultz that Democrats should have the fewest primary debates since 1980 and 20 less than they did in 2008, he needs to explain to Florida’s Democratic primary voters exactly why he thinks so,” American Crossroads added before insisting the issue could help his main primary rival U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla. “Either way, it’s time for Murphy to take a stand – otherwise, he might find himself following the lead of Alan Grayson in more than just the polls.”

The Murphy team fired back later on Thursday morning, insisting the GOP-aligned PAC wanted Grayson to win the primary so the Republicans can keep the seat. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., currently holds the seat but is running for the Republican presidential nomination and has said he will not seek a second term in the Senate. 

“First the Koch Bros.’ Americans for Prosperity attacked Patrick’s record. Now Karl Rove’s group, American Crossroads, has joined them,” the Murphy campaign noted on Thursday. “These groups want to stop Democrats from winning Florida’s all-important Senate seat next year. And they’re taking aim at Patrick because he’s their biggest threat.

“Rove and the Kochs know Patrick can beat one of their allies in a general election. They don’t want him to make it that far,” the Murphy team added. “And special interest groups are like gnats -- there’s never just one of them around. When one starts getting involved in a top-tier race, others are sure to follow ... these groups will continue to twist the truth and try to convince Florida voters to vote against their own interests.”

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

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