U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy read the writing on the wall early. Murphy, an Orlando-area Democrat, announced in December that would not seek re-election.
As The Free Press reported at the time, she did so a month after Republicans in the Legislature released a new congressional-district reapportionment map that essentially zeroed out her district.
Murphy became one of more than 30 Democrats who will not run again this year. Her departure was seen as a blow to the party as the number of relatively centrist Democrats continues to dwindle.
On Friday, Murphy slammed President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, which works to elect Dems to the U.S. House, for abandoning elected leaders and candidates like her.
Prefacing its interview with Murphy, Politico noted that Democrats hold their admittedly slim House majority today because Murphy upset a longtime-serving Republican in 2016.
“When the DCCC told her to focus her message on the dangers of another unruly candidate on the ballot that year, Donald Trump, she balked. Instead, she ran entirely on pocketbook issues, talked about her personal story as a Vietnamese refugee-turned-national security specialist, and won. The DCCC would later adopt that same model with recruitment and strategy, going on to flip the House in 2018.”
“She led the centrist Blue Dogs back to relevance, secured a post on the powerful Ways and Means panel and bucked Speaker Nancy Pelosi time and time again, forcing Democratic leaders to pay attention to moderates’ demands,” the piece continued.
“But despite her rising-star status, Murphy, at age 43, is calling it quits.”
Murphy said her estrangement from her own party began when she supported a Republican bill that zapped illegal immigrants with tougher penalties if they are convicted of crimes, are deported, and re-enter the country illegally.
Murphy said Democrats – who famously promote their tolerance – became less tolerant of those who refused to tow the party line.
“I think in order for us as Democrats to hold the majority, you have to be able to win in seats like mine and in redder seats. That means you have to cut your members a little bit of leeway to vote their district,” she said. “This march towards party unity is going to be detrimental to our ability to lead.”
It got worse after Joe Biden got elected and in office.
The party leadership “beat moderates into submission” in the effort to ram through Biden’s left-wing agenda.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I said, ‘You can’t keep promising rainbows and unicorns when your political reality is such narrow margins in the House and a dead-even Senate,’” Murphy told Politico.
“They took the difference between rainbows and unicorns and political reality — which is anger and disappointment — and turned that anger and disappointment against their own members.”
Murphy said her party’s leaders turned liberal special-interest groups against people like her, as those groups threatened to back primary challengers against moderates in order to elect someone further left.
“I am surprised at how short the memory is,” Murphy added. “It’s as short as being celebrated for having flipped a seat and then excoriated for taking votes that help you keep that seat. … [A]s soon as they [moderates] went about taking the votes that would help them keep and represent the seat that they had won, they drew the ire of the Democrats.”
As Politico reported, Murphy grasps that “[h]er party right now doesn’t want a member like her.”
“Centrist Democrats, once the ballyhooed beacon of the House Democratic majority, are now greatly out of fashion. And because of that, she worries, her party may find itself in the minority. She, meanwhile, is ready to go home to spend time with her kids and finally get them a puppy.”
“I don’t want to hand this country and the agenda over to a party that’s trying to dismantle democracy,” Murphy added. “But I also don’t want to hand my party over to the faction that wants to dismantle capitalism. I think both of those are dangerous and detrimental to this country.”