Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Ratings Change: Florida’s 18th District

Murphy is a first-term Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Murphy is a first-term Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The way things are going this cycle, Democrats could use a piece of good news — and Rep. Patrick Murphy’s re-election might be just that for party strategists.

The Democratic congressman was initially elected last cycle in a very close race, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent, over polarizing GOP Rep. Allen West in Florida’s 18th District. Mitt Romney carried that district with with 52 percent.

That close margin of victory and Romney’s win in the district virtually guaranteed Murphy a slot near the top Republican takeover lists for 2014.

But Murphy has been one of the most prolific fundraisers in the entire House. The congressman raised more than $675,000 in the first quarter and had more than $2.2 million in the bank at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Republicans appear to be banking on former state Rep. Carl Domino getting through the Aug. 26 primary and then writing a significant personal check for the general election campaign. Domino had $388,000 on hand on March 31.

The nature of Florida’s 18th District and the national political environment could end up giving Murphy some problems. But this race doesn’t deserve to be in the broad toss-up category right now. We’re changing the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Tossup/Tilts Democrat to Leans Democrat.

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    The area doesn’t lean Democratic though. Murphy won last time largely because his opponent was such a polarizing figure and the attacks on Murphy were somewhat ludicrous.

    Not that it’s impossible for the Republicans to make the same mistake again (I have no idea what likely candidate Domino’s positions are in practice), but Murphy hasn’t exactly made a name for himself around here, his centrism ultimately has failed to do anything but make him look unprincipled, and thus a respectable Republican might/would attract Democratic votes.

    Can Republicans actually put up a respectable candidate though? They appear to have problems in that regard lately.

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