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Labor Unions Line Up Behind Murphy in Florida Senate Primary

Two more labor unions endorsed Patrick Murphy's Senate campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Patrick Murphy announced the endorsements of two additional labor unions Thursday, adding to a list of traditionally key Democratic constituency groups rallying behind his campaign for Senate.  

“Of course, Alan Grayson has a great record," said Frank Ortis, the mayor of Pembroke Pines and the president of the Florida Machinist State Council, pointing to Murphy's opponent in the Democratic primary. "I feel personally that Patrick Murphy is going to be a great U.S. senator."  Ortis said the Machinist State Council — aligned with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers — joined the International Association of Ironworkers in lending Murphy financial and organizational support ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.  

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Florida Teamsters, and the Laborers' International Union of North America had previously endorsed Murphy, his campaign said.  

Murphy's campaign pointed out Grayson has received no support from statewide or national labor unions. Last August , Grayson did receive the support of the Central Florida Building and Construction Trades Council, a local union, and his campaign noted he has also received a donation from the Communications Workers of America's political action committee.  

"It's understandable that certain unions feel pressure from the Washington establishment to back a former Republican who owns a stake in an anti-union construction company," Grayson spokesman David Damron said, "but Rep. Grayson's 98 percent lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO is something every union household will continue to feel comfortable with, as they walk into the ballot booth this August."  

Sean Mitchell, an official with the Florida ironworkers, said Grayson and Murphy have both been "friends of labor," but like Ortis, he said Murphy has the "best chance" to win in November against the eventual Republican opponent.  

“Sometimes when you have two friends, you have to select the better of the two," he said.  

Along with endorsements from labor aligned groups, Murphy's campaign has support from much of the Democratic establishment, including state and federal lawmakers and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.  

Grayson has bucked the Democratic establishment with his Senate bid against Murphy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Grayson has bucked the Democratic establishment with his Senate bid against Murphy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In turn, Grayson — like Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders or Republican Donald Trump have in their respective primary fields — has campaigned as a thorn in the establishment's side, attacking everyone from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to groups like the DSCC and the Democratic National Committee and its nominating process.  

On Thursday, for example, Grayson called on Democrats to vote in an online poll to "help choose" whether to support Sanders or Hillary Clinton with his superdelegate vote. In a statement railing against the process, he said the online survey "could make one of the least democratic elements of the UnDemocratic Party into something really special."  

The race has heated up in recent days, as Grayson, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has attempted to fend off questions about whether he breached House ethics rules while operating a hedge fund. Reid called on Grayson to drop out of the race and Murphy said he should shut down the fund, but Grayson has not budged.  

The Florida Senate race, an open contest because Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is not seeking re-election, is rated Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call.

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