If Republicans want to take back the U.S. House in November, they will likely need more than one Florida congressional seat to do it.
One seat they hope to gain is the one currently held by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., which includes all of Seminole County and the northern and eastern portion of Orange County. To win the seat, Republican voters picked Dr. Leo Valentin in a close primary earlier this month.
“We’re really energized, and I think the sentiment that comes to mind is grateful for everyone that put their time and effort into achieving this victory,” Valentin said.
Valentin said he knows all about the healthcare crisis in this country. To fix it, he is ready to get rid of President Barack Obama’s federal healthcare law entirely, likening it to price-fixing.
“What we need to bring is some connection to the market, to the real world, to free-market principals, and the more of the bureaucracy and the red tape that was created with government regulation that limited flexibility, limited competition. Those bad policies increase cost,” he said.
Valentin wants to increase health savings accounts, and called the system a “Frankenstein.” When asked though, Valentin would not name a single piece of government red tape that negatively affects his practice.
Murphy took Valentin to task for this position, asking how he could possibly want to cut available healthcare to people in the middle of a pandemic.
“My Republican opponent has spent the primary pledging his allegiance to President Trump. He is a self-described Trump Republican who is going to do nothing to stand up to the president,” Murphy said.
Murphy is coming off her second term in Congress after upsetting longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. in 2016 and then easily beating former state Rep. Mike Miller in 2018. Murphy said she is proud of bringing more than $580 million in grants for Central Florida, singling out dollars to improve I-4 and making Lynx buses more friendly for the environment. She said she hopes to continue to help the region.
“I’d like to be able to continue to work on job security and opportunity for Central Floridians, especially as we make our way through this current crisis and recover on the other side,” Murphy said.
Valentin wants to challenge Murphy on the economy, cheerfully showcasing his support for the Trump White House.
“People recognize the capacity of this president to work and help us recover this economy,” Valentin told Florida Daily. “The real divide in this country is not between party affiliation. It is between the elite and the hard-working Americans.”
Valentin’s line of attack is one that has been used against Stephanie Murphy before. While Murphy is known as a moderate, Valentin isn’t buying it, pointing out she votes with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., 94 percent of the time.
“You can’t say that you are a moderate and vote for socialist policies more than 94 percent of the time,” he said.
Murphy leads the Blue Dog coalition though, a group that describes itself as “fiscally responsible” Democrats.
“It’s funny that the thing they keep trying to come at is this moderate label. For me, it is about being effective. Call it whatever you want, but I have been effective on behalf of my community, and that’s by working with both sides of the aisle,” Murphy said.
If re-elected, Murphy said she will continue to put her district over partisan interests.
“I stand up to my party when it is in the interest of my constituents and I will stand up to the president in the same way, but I also have found ways to work with people across the aisle with the administration when it advances the interests of my constituents,” she said.
One area both candidates agree on is that next round of coronavirus aid should contain direct payments to the American people. Neither candidate was ready to put an exact dollar amount on what those payments should be.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.