Stephanie Murphy bows out of Rubio challenge; instead will seek reelection and work on party building

Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Central Florida meets members of the National Guard in Washington, D.C., in January 2021. Source: Facebook

Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy will forego a campaign for U.S. senator next year rather than risk a divisive Democratic primary battle that would weaken its ultimate nominee against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

In a video released Monday through her Twitter feed, Murphy, the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, cited recent losses by her party in close statewide elections.

“We’ve had too many close losses in Florida, and so I wanted to use my experience from winning tough races to help the party prepare itself,” Murphy said.

She would have been a strong contender, she added.

“But the reality is that Marco Rubio will not be an easy opponent, especially if it’s on the heels of a bruising primary, where Democrats spend millions attacking each other instead of using those millions to build the infrastructure we so desperately need to win here,” Murphy said.

“So, I’ve decided, instead of running for the U.S. Senate, I will devote my energy to helping make our party stronger. While I will not be running statewide in ’22, I will work to help the Democratic Party build toward statewide success.”

Murphy said she will seek reelection to Congressional District 7 in Central Florida.

Her decision leaves the field to fellow Central Floridians Val Demings, congresswoman from District 10, and possibly former Congressman Alan Grayson. Neither has formally announced a Senate run, but Demings released a stage-setting video via Twitter on May 4.

Florida’s sitting U.S. senators — Rubio and Rick Scott — both live in South Florida (Rubio in West Miami and Scott in Naples.)

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.