Patrick Murphy talks campaign, entrepreneurship at Tampa tech accelerator program

Although the primary election is right around the corner, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy seemed to have his eye on a general election run against Senator Marco Rubio when speaking in Tampa Monday morning.

Murphy, a Democratic Congressman from Jupiter, said it's clear why Rubio is running for his own Senate seat, after the first-term Republican Senator initially refused to say whether he would fulfill a full six-year term in office as his presidential aspirations collapsed.

“He’s in this because he wants to run for president again. That’s his ambitions,” Murphy said. “I care about working for the people of Florida, for getting things done for Floridians, and part of that is getting around and meeting entrepreneurs and meeting people, hearing what’s on their minds so I can be the strongest voices for them.”

While Murphy is “looking forward to another exchange of ideas” with Rubio, Murphy did not address the ongoing allegations that he is avoiding debating his Democratic opponent, Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Orlando.

Murphy spoke with reporters after meeting with Mayor Bob Buckhorn and entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay WaVE, a local tech accelerator that helps entrepreneurs build, launch and grow tech businesses.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn met with entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay WaVE to learn more about their startup businesses. - Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy
Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn met with entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay WaVE to learn more about their startup businesses.

Buckhorn thanked Murphy for coming to Tampa Bay, adding that it's important for senators and Senate candidates like Murphy to meet with local leaders and Florida residents.

“If it's any indication, I’ve seen Patrick Murphy more in the past five weeks than I saw Marco Rubio in that last five years. I have never met Marco Rubio. That speaks volumes to me about his commitment to Florida and certainly his commitment to the Tampa Bay area,” Buckhorn said. “The fact that our U.S. Senator has never taken the time to spend any time to talk about issues like this with the local leaders is an indictment right there.”

Both Murphy and Buckhorn toured the Tampa Bay WaVE offices and spoke with several of its entrepreneurs. Some of the startups Murphy and Buckhorn learned about include PikMyKid, Therapist Assisted Online (TAO) and TechStart Tampa Bay.

“If we're going to stay ahead and if we're going to continue to be the best country in the world, it's going to be because we invested in these startups,” Murphy said.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn meets with local entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay WaVE. - Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy
Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy
U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn meets with local entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay WaVE.

Tampa Bay WaVE has over 30 companies and is preparing to enroll another eight startups. Several of these companies are choosing to start their businesses in the Tampa Bay area, rather than San Francisco or Boston.

This is creating an “economic ripple effect” in the Tampa Bay area, as more businesses raise money in Tampa and more investors come to Tampa to do business, says Accelerator Manager Daniel McDonald. Having a politician come to hear entrepreneurs also shows that we’re making a huge impact, McDonald said.

“It makes a big difference for these small businesses to know that a political figure here that could potentially be in a powerful position came here to hear them out,” said McDonald.

Murphy praised the Tampa Bay WaVE entrepreneurs for their investments in the area. He also said he is looking forward to working with Buckhorn and startup companies after elected to the U.S. Senate.

“These entrepreneurs are part of how we change Tampa Bay's economic DNA,” Buckhorn said. “I know it's my job to support [entrepreneurship]. It will be Patrick's job to support it as a U.S. Senator as well.”

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