- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rep. Alan Grayson, one of the most outspoken liberal voices in Congress, said Thursday he’ll make a run for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2016, complicating the picture for Democratic leaders who’d recruited someone else and now face the prospect of a bitter primary in the high-stakes race.

Rep. Patrick Murphy had already declared his candidacy and had the backing of the Democratic establishment in the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican running for president. The race is a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats.

“I am unbought and unbossed — I am nothing to anyone but the people,” Mr. Grayson said in a seven-minute biographical video posted to his campaign website, detailing his personal history that saw him go from growing up in tenements in the Bronx to attending Harvard.

He said in the last two years he’s written more bills, passed more floor amendments, and enacted more of his bills into law than any other member of the House.

Mr. Grayson was first elected to Congress in 2008 before losing in 2010. He won a seat again in 2012, after lines were redrawn, and was re-elected in 2014. He gained attention for a 2009 floor speech during the health care debate in which he said Republicans’ plan for health care is for people to “die quickly.”

In 2013, he also stuck by his likening of the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan even after receiving pushback from his own party, and also has recently had to beat back ethics questions over hedge funds he started in 2011 after he lost his first re-election bid.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, has already endorsed Mr. Murphy in the race and issued a statement Thursday reaffirming that support.

Still, Mr. Grayson, a liberal champion with a national network of followers, could be difficult to surmount.

National Democrats are counting on the GOP also having a bruising primary, with Rep. Ron DeSantis and businessman Todd Wilcox expressing interest and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rep. Jeff Miller being watched as well.

At the state level, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party welcomed Mr. Grayson to the race.

“Florida Democrats look forward to the coming discussion about our future,” said FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant. “It is vital that we elect a Democrat in 2016 to take back the U.S. Senate and support the next Democratic President of the United States.”

American Crossroads, a prominent conservative advocacy group, said it was eager to see Mr. Grayson in the race because it will force Democrats to have to defend or distance themselves from him.

The group likened Mr. Grayson to former Rep. Todd Akin, who lost his 2012 Senate bid after comments about rape and pregnancy that created political headaches for Republicans in that year’s elections.

Democrats have already scored high-profile recruits in a number of other key Senate races, and on Thursday the DSCC also endorsed Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is challenging GOP Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois, another of the Democrats’ best pick-up opportunities in an election that, because it comes one cycle after the Tea Party class of 2010, leaves Republicans with many more and more-vulnerable seats to defend than Democrats have.

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