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Race to Replace Patrick Murphy in Congress Continues to Take Shape

April 29, 2015 - 6:00pm

With U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., running for the U.S. Senate in 2016, the race to replace him is starting to take shape with some candidates looking at running while others stay out of the fray.

On Thursday, Florida Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said he would not run for Congress and instead focus on moving up the leadership ladder in Tallahassee where he hopes to be his partys leader in the Senate. As he bowed out on Thursday, Clemens took a shot at the problems in the Republican-controlled Legislature as the House and Senate are far apart on a budget and on Medicaid expansion.

Why would I run for Congress, when Tallahassee has become so entertaining lately? Clemens asked. Besides, I have a tremendous amount of confidence that well have a fantastic candidate who will keep that seat in Democratic hands.

Clemens took another shot at the GOP over how officials in Gov. Rick Scotts administration have not been using the term climate change in communications. Earlier this year, Clemens appeared on the Daily Show on Comedy Central and tried to make a state employee use the term climate change.

I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish in Tallahassee, and Im hoping that some of them will involve getting more people to be afraid of words, Clemens said. Oh, and climate change. It would be good for them to fear actual climate change, too.

Theres also movement on the Republican side as Florida Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach, told the Palm Beach Post that he is very divided about running for Congress. His brother U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., has been in Congress since winning a seat in 2008.

Rooney told the Palm Beach Post that his role as president of the Palm Beach Kennel Club dog track will impact his decision about running for Congress.

Id still say its 50-50, Rooney told the Palm Beach Post. I dont really think Im leaning one way or another right now. The deciding factor is really going to be the business.

Also in recent days, conservative commentator Noelle Nickpour told the Palm Beach Post that she could run for the seat on the Republican side.

Currently, Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor and engineer Juan Xuna are running for the Democratic nomination. Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron is running for the Republican nomination.

There are several other possible candidates including St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on the Democratic side, and former state Rep. Carl Domino, state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery, Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith and businessman Gary Uber for the Republicans..

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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