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In Florida: Anger, Confusion, Musical Chairs

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Allen West’s former Democratic opponent called him a “coward” for seeking re-election in Florida’s 18th district rather than in the 22nd, which he currently represents.

Murphy, who has raised $1.3 million (some of it because he is running against the controversial West), is on particularly dangerous ground because he is a 28-year-old certified public accountant who works in his family’s business and, as far as I can tell, has no record of military service. Nor do I, I should point out, but then again, I didn’t refer to a Bronze Star winner who served in Operation Desert Storm, in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan as a coward.

Murphy, of course, has every right to call West loud, dangerous, extreme, radical or whatever he wishes, but when some kid who is wet behind the ears and has raised most of his money from people in the development and construction business — the same business his family is in — calls his opponent a “coward,” he risks looking ridiculous.

There is already talk that Murphy may follow West over to the proposed 18th district rather than staying in the 22nd district Democratic primary, which is already getting more crowded. I am sure that he’ll make that decision after looking at all the implications — and judging which choice maximizes his prospects. Whatever his decision, it won’t show either courage or cowardice.

Murphy’s main opponent for the Democratic nomination in the 22nd district has been Lois Frankel, 63, a former state House Minority Leader and one-time mayor of West Palm Beach.

But Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs (who is also vice mayor) has just entered the race, and she offers a very attractive profile. Fellow commissioner (and Broward mayor) John Rodstrom is also saying that he is considering the race.

While West’s existing competitive district becomes more Democratic, Republicans are hopeful that former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner can hold it for their party.

Hasner, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., just left the Senate race and parachuted into the House contest, and he previously represented parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties in the Legislature. The fact that he is Jewish is also an asset.

All of the political activity is occurring even though the state may be weeks or months away from having a map. The Florida House passed the new map last week, and the Senate could act as soon as today. The map, however, will still come under review by the Department of Justice and the courts.

Name-calling, of course, is not new in American politics or in Florida. Nor are political loose cannons. Just think, Florida might send West and former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) to Congress in November. If that happens, they could form their own loose cannons caucus.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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