Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters hosted an anti-impeachment rally outside Orlando area Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s office on Thursday – part of a national GOP effort to put Democrats in competitive districts on the spot.
“Stop the madness! Time for Rep. Stephanie Murphy to go to work on behalf of her district instead of for Speaker Pelosi and the Socialist squad,” Gruters wrote on his Facebook page after the rally concluded.
Murphy announced her support for an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump two weeks ago, after reports first surfaced that he withheld military aid from Ukraine and pressured that nation’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his potential opponent in the 2020 election, and Biden’s son.
The centrist-leaning Democrat had resisted earlier calls for impeachment against Trump, as had most members of the Florida Democratic caucus in the months following release of findings by special prosecutor Robert Mueller regarding Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“The Republican Party of Florida can attack me all they want, but I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Murphy tweeted on Thursday. “I will not be bullied into abandoning my oath. We must uncover the truth and get the facts for the American people.”
Thursday’s was the second rally held this week in front of the Florida office of a Democratic House member in a swing district who supports an impeachment inquiry.
On Monday, Panhandle-area Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz was scheduled to speak in front of Rep. Charlie Crist’s district office in St. Petersburg but failed to appear, blaming a “miscommunication.” Far more protesters who supported impeachment showed up, according to a Florida Politics report.
Murphy defeated GOP incumbent John Mica by 3 percentage points in 2016. Her Central Florida congressional district was the only one that Republicans thought they could win back in 2018, but Murphy ended up winning by 15 points.
A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign made it clear that Republicans hope her support for an impeachment inquiry will damage her with voters.
“Democrats like Rep. Stephanie Murphy have broken their promise to voters, choosing to waste taxpayer dollars on a baseless impeachment inquiry instead of working for their constituents,” Danielle Alvarez said in a written statement. “Murphy pretends to be a moderate in rhetoric only but, when it comes time to act, she turns around and votes with the socialist squad. Voters of the Sunshine State will remember in 2020.”
The Republican National Committee unveiled a new website called StopTheMadness.gop last week, which they say will operate as a “one-stop clearinghouse to defend the president.” They also announced a $2 million TV and digital ad buy. It’s part of a nationwide effort against more than 60 congressional Democrats the GOP believes are vulnerable with independent voters for supporting an impeachment inquiry – after promising while campaigning that they could work with the president.
Republicans say that the American people want Congress to focus on fixing their problems, and not on targeting the president. However, new polls show growing support for impeachment. They include a Fox News poll suggesting 51 percent want Trump impeached and removed from office.
The next scheduled stop for Gruters and Gaetz (who it was announced this would join Gruters) will be at the Kendall office of Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala on Friday afternoon. The two intend to call out both Shalala and fellow South Florida Democrat Debbie Murcasel-Powell for their support for an impeachment inquiry. Like Murphy and Crist, Shalala was also among the group of 100 Democratic lawmakers who reversed their stance against impeachment once the details of his phone conversation with the Ukrainian president surfaced from a whistleblower last month.
Not so in Murcasel-Powell’s case. In June, she became only the second Florida Democratic representative to come out in support of impeachment at the time. Murcasel-Powell narrowly defeated Republican Carlos Curbelo last year in one of the most expensive House races in the country, and the GOP considers her seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District to be one they can definitely flip next year.