Finding a Democrat willing to fully embrace Environmentalism is becoming tougher and tougher in Florida. In recent elections, Democrats have often failed to emphasize conservation issues despite it polling highly as a priority among independent voters.
Patrick Murphy, a first time candidate running for Congress in House District 18 is an exception. A fresh new face to electoral politics, Murphy is emphasizing environmental protection and energy independence in his campaign. Murphy speak with credibility as he currently serves as Vice President of Coastal Environmental Services, which specializes in disaster relief and environmental cleanup. In 2010, Murphy spent six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading the company’s efforts to remove oil spilled during the BP disaster. Coastal Environmental is an affiliate of Coastal Construction, one of the leading construction firms in the country and has been named one of the nation’s top “Green Contractors”.
Murphy’s GOP opponent needs to no introduction to most informed voters. Few Republican in the country engender the type of passion among activists on both sides of the political spectrum as Allen West. The Plantation based lawmaker has compiled a hard right voting record full of incendiary remarks in his first term in Congress. West has become a national hero of the Tea Party Movement at the same time as he has become a convenient fundraising tool for Democrats. This has allowed Murphy to become one of the best funded Democratic challengers in the country.
West attempted to avoid certain defeat in the redrawn District 22 (where TPH has endorsed Lois Frankel) by moving north to the Treasure Coast oriented 18th. Murphy however also abandoned his candidacy in District 22 and moved north to continue his challenge. Murphy is emphasizing not just conservation but also economic issues and jobs during this campaign, strategically redirecting the debate from West’s bombastic barbs on social issues, foreign policy and the President to issues that really matter to voters.
Murphy, a CPA has been strongly backed by former Governor Charlie Crist and former Congressman Robert Wexler. This gives Murphy a strong grounding in a district whose new lines indicate a toss up politically. The district takes in the heavily Republican but moderate and environmental leaning Martin County and St. Lucie County, which has proven to be a swing area in recent elections, and parts of Palm Beach County including the very Democratic condo area Century Village in West Palm Beach. The district also includes several gated communities that have proven to be the decisive vote in recent West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County elections in the area. These gated areas are classic suburban swing neighborhoods where Murphy’s style should give him an advantage.
The overall performance numbers of the district are almost dead even, but in Presidential election years like 2012, it trends more Democratic. Allen West’s brand of fiery conservatism is a bad match for almost any part of southeast Florida outside heavily Cuban-American areas of Miami-Dade County. But West has made a name for himself locally with his outstanding constituent service and attention to local interests. West has also been mentioned as VP possibility by 2008 GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, but national ambitions and a national profile won’t help West in this district.
Before he faces off with West, Murphy must negotiate a primary against two local challengers. Both have every right to run as Murphy has moved north from Fort Lauderdale to compete in this district. But should Murphy be denied the nomination, chances of a Democratic pickup in this seat will have vanished.
The Political Hurricane highly recommends and endorses Patrick Murphy in the Democratic Primary and November election for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.