In their editorial board endorsements for the Florida Senate race, the Miami Herald has taken the unusual route of refusing to endorse either of the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson, instead throwing their support to long-shot candidate Pam Keith.
The Herald acknowledged that Keith’s chances of winning the primary are “slim to none,” which they call a “shame.” Keith has been excluded from most opportunities to participate in debates because her poll numbers were below the threshold set by the debate organizers, as The Capitolist reported last month. In addition to the name recognition and influence that comes along with being in Congress, both Murphy and Grayson are independently wealthy and have been able to get significant outside financial support, Murphy from the establishment wing of the Democratic Party and Grayson from more progressive elements.
Still, the Herald was unconvinced that either Democratic Congressman was the best choice to represent Florida in the Senate. Regarding Murphy, they decry the efforts by Democratic Party leadership to tilt the scales in his favor and note that “questions have cropped up about whether the candidate has embellished his résumé.”
The Herald skims over the details, but Murphy’s campaign had a terrible time in June and the damage may very well linger until the November general election. First, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election, meaning that instead of facing a crowded field of Republicans who were battering each other fighting for name recognition, the Democrats would instead be facing a well-funded incumbent with national celebrity. Then, a series of media reports began punching holes in Murphy’s resume, most notably a CBS-Miami report titled, “The Making of Patrick Murphy,” which accused him of exaggerating or misrepresenting almost every aspect of his claimed experience.
The Herald also takes a whack at Murphy for chickening out of a debate with Grayson, slamming Murphy’s “flimsy excuse” of blaming new reports of allegations of domestic abuse against Grayson. Grayson has never been charged for anything related to the latest round of accusations against him, but the recent split from his former wife Lolita Grayson was a bitter and nasty one that generated reams of headlines about abuse allegations, bigamy, extravagant spending, and other troubles.
More important than Grayson’s domestic troubles (many of which, to be fair, remain unproven), the Herald points to ongoing allegations of ethical improprieties. “The darker cloud over Rep. Grayson’s head,” they wrote, “is a series of ethics investigations into how he managed three hedge funds that bear his name and have unnamed investors.” And now with two more new investigations launched against him, “Rep. Grayson remains in a kind of ethical limbo.”
On Keith’s Facebook page, she thanked the Herald for their endorsement.
“The editorial board of the Herald looked beyond the metrics of money and polls, and measured the substance of the candidates, their ideas, credentials, experience and vision for Florida,” wrote Keith. “For once, I was allowed to fully compete with my opponents on the merits. And for this, I am truly grateful.”
The Herald also endorsed Rubio for the Republican primary. The Florida primary will be on August 30. Early voting will begin on August 20.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Pam Keith for Senate.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.