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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

President Obama helps Patrick Murphy in new radio ad

20

June

Signaling a new stage in the Democratic primary for Florida's U.S. Senate race, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy unveiled a new radio ad on Monday that features a heavyweight narrator: President Barack Obama.

"In Congress, I could always count on Patrick to have my back. He’s been there for me when I needed him," Obama says, asking listeners to support Murphy in the Aug. 30 primary.

In the ad -- titled "For What's Right -- Obama also hails Murphy as a "strong progressive," while praising several of his policy positions, such as on Social Security and Medicare, health care and criminal justice reform.

The 60-second spot is paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which endorsed Murphy more than a year ago and is prepared to spend millions on his behalf in the campaign ahead. Florida's seat, currently held by Republican Marco Rubio, could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate next year.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Murphy in March. They've also already joined the Jupiter congressman on the campaign trail three times this spring -- Obama and Biden with separate trips to Miami and Biden once by himself in Orlando.

Murphy is competing against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith in the U.S. Senate primary.

Listen to the radio ad here:

Murphy's campaign would provide no details on the cost or placement of the ad, saying only that it's a "significant, statewide radio ad buy that will run for several weeks."

The DSCC did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Politico reported the radio ad is a way for Murphy to court support from black voters. The website reported the ad is scheduled to run for "three weeks in urban markets on programs like the Glory of Gospel on Star 94.5 in Orlando, and the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, which is broadcast on stations like 99Jamz in Miami."

While Murphy has been endorsed by several high-profile black politicians, including Obama and several members of Congress, he missed a prime opportunity on Saturday to court rank-and-file black voters and other party loyalists within his own state party.

Unlike his primary opponents, Murphy didn't address the black caucus during the Florida Democratic Party's "Leadership Blue" Gala in Hollywood -- nor did he speak at standing-room-only meetings for the progressive caucus, the LGBT caucus and the women's caucus. (Progressive caucus leaders support Grayson in the Senate contest.)

Both Grayson, a progressive firebrand, and Keith, who is black, did speak at those meetings, and the absence of Murphy -- who's viewed as a front-runner in the Senate contest -- did not go unnoticed by party supporters in attendance.

Murphy held a press conference that afternoon, though, in which he was joined by several black Democratic politicians including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina. The topic of that event was criminal justice reform.

[Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2016 9:46am]

    

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