UPDATED: Patrick Murphy endorses Gwen Graham after deciding not to run for governor

by | Jun 7, 2018

 

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced Thursday afternoon that he will not run for governor and is instead endorsing Gwen Graham in this year’s gubernatorial contest. The announcement came during a news conference in Pembroke Pines that was attended by both Murphy and Graham.

“I have decided not to enter the race for governor because there is one Democratic candidate already demonstrating the leadership Florida needs and fighting for the values we share — and that Democrat is Gwen Graham,” Murphy said.

“I’m proud to call Patrick Murphy a close friend and am honored to have his support. In Congress, we worked together to ban oil drilling off Florida’s beaches and to restore the Everglades,” Graham said after receiving the endorsement. “I was proud to support him in his campaign against Marco Rubio and, as governor, I will work with Patrick to restore our promise to public schools, protect our environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”

The news follows weeks of speculation over whether Murphy himself would enter the race for governor. He had floated the idea of making a bid for the seat with another former congressman, Republican David Jolly, as his running mate. Murphy supporters even had a poll conducted which showed a Murphy-Jolly ticket would be a viable contender in the race.

But, in the end, Murphy reportedly decided Wednesday that with less than two months remaining before the August 28 primary, he didn’t have time or money to make a serious bid for governor.

The news brought a quick, short response from the campaign of one of Graham’s opponents in the race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“Does it come with David Jolly’s endorsement too?” Gillum’s Communications Director Geoff Burgan asked in a written statement. It was an apparent reference to Graham’s’ comment last month that she would also consider Jolly as a running mate. She quickly took back that comment saying she would only consider a Democrat as her lieutenant governor candidate.

The campaign of Philip Levine, who has been leading in the polls, responded by releasing his campaign’s latest internal poll showing him leading Graham in two South Florida counties that are important for Democrats — Broward and Palm Beach. The poll shows Levine leading 39 percent to 9 percent for Graham. Another internal poll released over a week ago showed Levine with a 10-point lead over Graham statewide.
Orlando-area businessman Chris King is the fourth Democrat in the race. Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene filed his paperwork to run last Friday, but does not appear to have an organized campaign as of yet.
Both Graham and Murphy served in Congress together with both choosing to leave in January 2017. Graham left after congressional redistricting made her district more Republican. Murphy left after making an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat in the 2016 election.
 “Gwen is also the only candidate in this race who took on and beat an incumbent Republican — along with the NRA, Koch Brothers and Washington establishment,” Murphy said. “She’s proven she knows what it takes to win — and she is the leader Florida Democrats need to end 20 years of one-party Republican rule in Tallahassee.”
Both are considered to be moderate Democrats.

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