The race for Florida’s open seat in the United States Senate is quickly developing into a heavyweight prize fight between two sitting congressmen.
Last week, following the Democratic Party’s Presidential debate in Miami, U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) blasted his opponent, U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) for his ties to Manhattan financial institutions.
“He’s become an errand boy for Wall Street,” Grayson told SFGN in an exclusive interview in the “spin room” on the campus of Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus.
Grayson, often characterized as an outspoken leftist, is supporting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
“Bernie Sanders supporters have enormous intensity and that’s what we’re seeing,” Grayson said. “Bernie Sanders supporters will crawl over hot coals to vote for him and that means anything is possible.”
Grayson pointed to Sanders’ surprise win in Michigan last week as evidence of the socialist’s viability.
“Every single poll had Bernie down by double digits,” Grayson said. “There is a very dramatic movement in favor of one candidate.
”In his race, Grayson referred to an online poll he conducted showing him with an 11-point lead in the primary election and a 6-point lead in the general election.
“I’ve shown that I can do good things for the major elements of the Democratic Party: African Americans, Hispanics, the Jewish vote, labor and gays,” Grayson said. “I personally brought marriage equality to Central Florida and had to battle the forces of the reactionary religious right to do that.”
As Florida was preparing to legalize same-sex marriage last January, Grayson said he demanded the Orange County Clerk of the Courts accept marriage license requests from gay couples and additionally negotiated a deal with prosecutors to protect those clerks from indictment.
“I did all that,” Grayson said. “Nobody told me to do, nobody asked me to do it. I did it on my own volition and as a result I had the proud honor to be the ring bearer at the first same-sex marriage in the history of Central Florida.”
Likewise, Murphy has his gay credentials as well having recently introduced the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, a piece of legislation intended to advance the dignity and security of older Americans who identify as LGBT. The 32-year-old accountant highlighted the bill during a recent campaign speech in Fort Lauderdale where he also questioned Grayson’s character in relation to a New York Times article linking Grayson to offshore hedge funds.
“Murphy has done nothing but smear me from day one,” Grayson said. “Even before I got into the race he had people come and tell me he was going to smear me, he was going to destroy my political reputation and he has carried out that threat as best as he can but the voters are too smart for that that’s why we have a double digit lead in the primary.
”Contrary to Grayson’s internal poll, a poll conducted by Univision Noticias and the Washington Post, released last week, shows Murphy with 27 percent support among likely Democratic voters compared to 16 percent for Grayson, with labor attorney Pam Keith pulling 11 percent. The primary election is slated for August.
“I am unbought and unbossed and I am running against someone who is fundamentally corrupted by the system,” said Grayson.
The senate seat came open when Marco Rubio decided to run for the Republican Presidential nomination. Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, declined to endorse either Grayson or Murphy during an appearance on Friday at Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices in Pompano Beach.