When you watch Patrick Murphy live you're immediately struck by how cool, how young, how self assured he is, the classic Irish 'pol' with an aura of self confidence and grace; the polished nature of his appearances, the well orchestrated operation as if he'd been born to the political life. Indeed, he has already been compared to a Kennedy by none other than Bill Clinton who predicted he would one day become President.
The Congressman from Florida's 18th District is a phenomenon to behold. A 32 year old accountant by training who entered politics in 2012, he comes from a storied South Florida family. His father, Tom Murphy Jr., built Coastal Construction, one of the most successful construction companies in the region. Patrick entered politics by barely defeating the notorious 'tea party' darling Alan West by less than a percentage point. Subsequent to that election, the most expensive congressional campaign in history, he cruised to a victory in 2014 spending $5.3 million and garnering 60% of the vote in a majority Republican district in a 'wave' election that heavily favored the Republicans. A rising Democratic star in Florida politics, his ambition spurred him to declare his candidacy for the Senate barely three years after his initial run and more than 18 months before the Senate election takes place.
In a private interview on Capitol Hill we asked Mr. Murphy how he expected to win the Senate seat held by Marco Rubio in a state that is a complicated maze for most Democrats. Patrick favors raising the minimum wage, Obamacare -with some caveats-, supports comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship and on most Democratic issues is a fairly orthodox, middle of the road Dem; "I’m a consensus-builder who is working to boost the economy by cutting waste in government, raise the minimum wage, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and protect the Everglades. I’ve done all of this by being an independent voice for Florida, and that’s what the Senate needs more of right now."
Already at this stage of the contest Murphy has raised an impressive amount of money and leads all declared opponents, some by as much as 10 points. His path to victory is to cobble together the so-called 'Obama coalition'. He is counting on strong voter participation in what is a Presidential election year. His campaign has a definite air of youth about it and he's active in social media and savvy when it comes to information technology. Google Patrick Murphy and the first entry is to a page where one can pledge support for his Senate campaign. His strong support for social security and immigration reform are targeted to please Seniors and Latino voters. The strong business background his family represents provides him with advantages among the business community and his pleasant, non-controversial manner and charming demeanor are calculated to win over even the most cynical audiences. The hallmark of Patrick's campaigns are that he does not attack opponents or use negative tactics; his is an optimistic vision of what politics can do and how service and pragmatism are essential to governing well.
As with his father, Patrick has an 'easy manner and ready sense of humor [that] belie an ironclad will'. He has a certain sparkle in his eye and a mildly Irish 'bad boy' image underneath the smooth, amiable exterior. There are definitely parallels with the 35th President and the Kennedy saga in general. He is determined to leave his mark on Florida politics and succeed in his campaign to join the US Senate. As you observe him you realize he just might make it to the Senate... and beyond.