The moderate Democrat in the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Florida just got what's probably the most coveted pair of endorsements for which most Democratic candidates can ask. That is, backing from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who announced their endorsement of U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D—Palm Beach Gardens) Wednesday morning.
The move comes as Murphy, a former Republican, struggles to catch up to his primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D—Orlando) in the polls.
Grayson is the more outspoken and better known of the two, but what he has in name recognition he lacks in establishment support, unlike Murphy. The party has long sought to get him out of the race; U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid even called on him to leave the race over reports of a potential conflict of interest.
Apparently, they've brought out the big guns.
"I am proud to endorse Congressman Patrick Murphy for the United States Senate," Obama said in a press statement. "Patrick has been a tireless champion for middle-class families and a defender of the economic progress that American workers and businesses have made. In Congress, he's fought to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, reform our criminal justice system, and protect a woman's right to choose. Floridians can count on Patrick Murphy to stand up for them every day as their next Senator."
Biden followed suit.
"I'm proud to endorse Congressman Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate, a leader who knows what's important: growing our economy from the middle class out, helping families put food on the table and save a little for the future," he said in the same media release. "Patrick Murphy has the progressive values, the work ethic, and the youthful energy the U.S. Senate needs. He'll work tirelessly to bring people together to make a difference for Florida's middle class."
Like probably any Democrat receiving such a high level endorsement, Murphy said he was "honored."
"The President, the Vice President and I share the same values and commitment — strengthening Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, protecting a woman's right to choose, and growing America’s middle class," he said in statement. "Over the past seven years, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been champions for Democrats and hardworking families across our country, and I am humbled and proud to receive their endorsement and campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with them for what we believe in."
The Grayson campaign has yet to respond to news of the endorsement, but Grayson often sharply criticizes Murphy for siding with Republicans on issues like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the controversy over Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.
Murphy, meanwhile, will be in St. Petersburg Friday afternoon fielding questions from members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.