Rep. Patrick Murphy will run for Senate in the Sunshine State in 2016, giving national Democrats the candidate they want in a top pickup opportunity for the party this cycle.
“I’ve spent the last several months considering the best way I can continue to serve the people of Florida, and today, after much thought and discussion with people from across this state, I’m proud to announce that I will be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2016," Murphy said in a release announcing his bid Monday morning.
Murphy defeated tea party firebrand Allen West in the 18th District in 2012. Since then, he's built a profile as a moderate Democratic lawmaker and prolific fundraiser — two attractive qualities for a statewide candidate in a swing state such as Florida.
Murphy's Senate bid also opens up the 18th District — a swing seat located along Florida's Treasure Coast. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the seat by a 4-point margin, making Murphy one of just five Democrats to hold a House district Romney carried in 2012.
A number of candidates on both sides of the aisle are mulling bids for Murphy's district. Democrats must retain the seat if the party has any chance of netting the 30 seats necessary to capture House control.
In the Senate contest, it's unclear if Murphy will face a primary for his party's nomination. Former Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz have said they will not run in 2016 .
Rep. Alan Grayson is mulling a bid. He is popular with the far left wing of the Democratic Party, but an ugly divorce battle could be troublesome for Grayson's Senate chances.
It's also unclear if the eventual Democratic nominee will face GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, given he is considering a presidential bid, a move that prevents him from simultaneously running for re-election.
Either way, Democrats will heavily target this seat in 2016.
Democrats need to net five seats to claim Senate control . President Barack Obama narrowly carried Florida in 2008 and 2012 with 50 percent, making it competitive territory.
The race is rated a Tilts Republican contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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