Will Floridians elect a bro to the U.S. Senate?
It's been a truly lousy week for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. Revelations that he padded his resume on academics and perhaps also his claims to have been on the front lines of the BP oil spill cleanup, highlighted what may be his biggest vulnerability: That silver spoon image.
The 33-year-old, two-term congressman seems like a candidate in the mold of Sen. Bill Nelson: a cautious centrist unlikely to say or doing anything particularly nutty (basically the opposite of Democratic rival Alan Grayson). But the clear line of attack emerging against Murphy is that he's a entitled, thin-skinned rich kid who's had everything handed to him courtesy of a dad pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into his political campaigns. People of a certain age may think James Spader in Pretty in Pink.
Allen West, whom Murphy unseated in 2012, tried to make this point in a devastating political ad highlighting Murphy's arrest at age 19 for drunk and disorderly conduct outside a South Beach night club: "Feb. 16, 2003. Fort Hood Texas. Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders and prepares his men to go to war. That night, in South Beach, Miami Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand, Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer. Patrick Murphy was arrested and taken to jail. Two men. A country in crisis. You decide."
Murphy has considerable political advantages over Grayson, not the least of which is the consensus among Democratic and Republican Party leaders alike that he is by far the stronger general election candidate. But today he looks considerably more vulnerable than he did 10 days ago.