Murphy, Rubio will face one another in U.S. Senate race

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It probably didn't help Orlando-area Congressman Alan Grayson's Senate campaign that the alt-weekly in his home town, Orlando Weekly, flat-out called him an asshole last week.

His main opponent, establishment-favored Patrick Murphy, a Congressman from Jupiter, handily won his primary Tuesday, with Grayson trailing him by more than 40 points; Murphy won 58.84 percent to Grayson's 17.75. Newcomer Pam Keith came in third with 15.45 percent.

Grayson wanted voters to ignore the personal stuff (including domestic abuse allegations) and the potential ethical missteps that cropped up during his campaign, and instead focus on his progressive agenda and his effectiveness as a Congressman. But no dice.

On Tuesday, Murphy issued a statement heralding his win.

“I am honored to earn the Democratic nomination to be Florida's next U.S. Senator,” he said in the statement, which was emailed by his campaign. “Over the past year, I have met and listened to so many hardworking families from across our state. They deserve a Senator who values hard work, and who will always put them first. Together, I know that we can strengthen our middle class, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, pass meaningful legislation to curb gun violence, and defend a woman’s right to choose."

Murphy, of course, will face incumbent Marco Rubio, who had dropped his reelection bid to seek the GOP presidential nomination, only to have those aspirations go down in flames as Donald Trump's candidacy continued to ascend. Rubio had basically said he didn't very much dig being a U.S. Senator, and had actually even told everyone he wasn't planning on running for his old seat, even if he dropped out of the presidential race.

Well, that didn't exactly work out as planned. Rubio killed it in the Republican Senate primary, beating businessman Carlos Beruff, his second best-known opponent, by more than 50 points.

And even if Rubio has all that name recognition and tons of party money at his disposal, Murphy can use Rubio's ambition against him. In his emailed statement, Murphy played that up.

"For the past six years, Marco Rubio has put himself first, failing to show up for his job except when it benefits his special interest campaign donors," he said. "Senator Rubio put his personal ambition ahead of Florida's middle class, earning the worst vote attendance record for a Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. Floridians are ready for a Senator who puts them first, and we’re going to make that a reality this November.”

Murphy also enjoys support from tons of groups that would love to see Rubio dethroned, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which aims to get Democratic Senators elected.

“Patrick has built a strong record of working across the aisle to fight for Florida’s working families, seniors and the environment, and he will bring that same work ethic to the United States Senate," said Tom Lopach, executive director of the DSCC. “Patrick will be there every day to work for Floridians, unlike no-show Senator Marco Rubio who earned the worst attendance record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years and just today couldn't commit to serving a full 6-year term. Rubio views his Senate seat as nothing more than a stepping stone to the presidency, and Florida deserves a Senator who is dedicated to fighting for them. Patrick will be that Senator, and we’re proud to continue to support him in his campaign.”

Murphy's candidacy will have big support from pro-choice groups; Rubio has been vocally anti-choice during his tenure as a U.S. Senator.

“We are thrilled to celebrate pro-choice champion Patrick Murphy on his victory in the Florida primary,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Patrick has always trusted his constituents to make their own decisions about how and when to grow their families, unlike Senator Rubio, who seeks to impose his will and personal ideology on Floridians. Patrick has always fought hard for our constitutionally protected right to access abortion care, while Senator Rubio continues to campaign on eliminating abortion access, even for women facing the Zika virus."

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