Earlier today, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn threw his support behind the U.S. Senate bid of Congressman Patrick Murphy, a Republican-turned-Democrat whose district covers Palm Beach County.
“Ideologically, he is exactly where most Floridians are. We are not a state of the extremes,” Buckhorn said, according to Tampa Tribune reporter Chris O'Donnell. “We are people who care about getting things done in Washington, D.C. Clearly that is not happening now.”
Murphy is the only announced candidate so far in the race for Republican senator Marco Rubio's seat, which Rubio is likely to vacate tif he does run for president (he plans on letting everyone know what his plans are on Monday). It's unclear who his potential Republican opponent would be, as none have announced.
Murphy, a moderate who has taken Republican-ish positions on things like the Keystone Pipeline (he voted for it) has drawn criticism from progressives, who say that despite the D after his name, he's too far to the right to excite most Dems.
The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida is similarly skeptical of Buckhorn's support, given how critical he was of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, also a former Republican whom Buckhorn in 2012 called an opportunist.
"It seems like Bob Buckhorn is flip-flopping on party flippers," said Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida President Susan Smith in a written statement. "A couple of years ago, Mayor Buckhorn thought Charlie Crist was an opportunist who should not be trusted because he switched parties just to run for office. Now, he's embracing Patrick Murphy who did the same thing."
Critics speculated that Buckhorn didn't support Crist's 2014 gubernatorial bid against incumbent Rick Scott because if he'd won, it would have put off Buckhorn's 2018 gubernatorial ambitions, given that it's hard to nab a party's nomination away when said party can easily bank on an incumbent.
Some progressives have called the 2016 Senate race a fight for soul of the Democratic party, which has recently, in progressives' view, anointed more conservative moderates it deems "electable" instead of progressives who can excite the Democratic base.
Smith and others are hoping Orlando-area Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson will throw his hat in the ring, but Grayson hasn't said he has any plans of running for the seat.
Murphy will again be in Tampa Friday, where he's expected to meet with supporters at Mise en Place from 4:30-6.