Murphy’s union backing could help cure summertime blues of August primary

Rep. Patrick Murphy

Rep. Patrick Murphy

With a dog-days-of-August primary election nearing, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced another union endorsement Wednesday, adding to his trove of get-out-the-vote labor groups which could prove decisive for the Jupiter lawmaker.

Murphy faces an Aug. 30 contest with U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and three lesser known Democrats. But Murphy continues to build on union support, picking up the backing of the Florida Professional Firefighters Association and its international unit.

The FPFA represents 24,000 fire fighters and emergency medical service personnel in 175 departments across the state.

Murphy, a favorite of the Democratic establishment, has been scooping up endorsements from many of the unions that typically provide dollars and foot soldiers for party nominees.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the state’s biggest teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Florida Teamsters and Florida Police Benevolent Association, all have climbed on board with Murphy.

For an Aug. 30 primary, when the minds of many voters are still on the beach or on back-to-school, candidates getting supporters to the polls can make the difference in determining if there’s a November general election contest in their future.

State voters’ statistics show primary turnout has ranged between a paltry 18 percent and 22 percent over the past decade.

“What’s scary to me is just how low primary turnout is,” Murphy said.

Support from unions, and their ability to push members and allies to the polls, can be critical, he acknowledged.

“I want to make sure they’re helping me get out our vote,” Murphy added.

Grayson hasn’t spent as much time courting organized labor, and also faced long odds when Murphy was tapped by Democratic Party leaders as the best prospect for winning the seat held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The Republican’s decision to run for re-election last month has clearly complicated things for Democrats.

But for the primary, Murphy clearly has an edge in many polls.

Grayson’s backing by organized groups also thinned this week, after the mother of his children provided police reports to Politico alleging decades of domestic abuse.

Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee rescinded endorsements Tuesday in Grayson’s Senate primary against Murphy following the allegations made by Lolita Grayson.

Their 25-year marriage was annulled last year after Grayson learned during their messy divorce that she was still married to another man when they wed. Grayson’s lawyer, Orlando’s Mark NeJame, declared Lolita Grayson’s claims “utterly false” and designed to discredit his campaign.

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