PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (AP) — Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy won't be on the ballot for governor after floating the idea of a bi-partisan ticket and instead endorsed former congressional colleague Gwen Graham on Thursday.
Murphy and Graham appeared together, along with Graham's father, former Senator and Governor Bob Graham, to make the announcement and end speculation that Murphy would run for governor with former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly.
Murphy and Graham both left Congress in January 2017. Murphy gave up his seat for an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run, while Graham decided not to run for re-election after her district was redrawn and became firmly Republican. Both were moderate Democrats in Congress, sometimes voting with Republicans on issues like health care and the XL pipeline.
Graham's votes have left her open to criticism from her opponents in a crowded primary, but Murphy said her willingness to work with the other side is a plus.
Murphy and Jolly toured the state speaking at college campuses about the political divide in Washington, and from that came the idea that they would run for governor together. Polling showed the idea could work. Murphy said he wrestled with whether or not to run and didn't make a decision until Wednesday night.
"I thought maybe bringing a Republican and Democrat together might be a unique way to actually to solve problems but that's where Gwen and I ultimately overlap is that we want to solve problems. However you get there is up to the candidate in charge, but I think finding that middle ground is the best way to move the issues forward," Murphy said.
The endorsement is a boost for Graham, who began the election cycle as the presumed front-runner, but who has slipped in the polls to former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who has spent about $8 million of his own money on the race and has been blanketing the state with television ads for weeks.
"This is a big day for our campaign, a monumental day," Graham said. "Patrick and I served together and we recognize in each other what it takes to actually get something done."
Also seeking the Democratic nomination are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and billionaire Jeff Greene, who filed paperwork last week. Republican Gov. Rick Scott can't seek re-election due to term limits and is instead challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
Republicans running for governor include Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida.