The Republicans trying to oust U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. in Congressional District 7 say they will help President Donald Trump get his agenda through Congress.
The district was long represented by then U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. until a court ordered redistricting added a large portion of Orange County and. by extension, made it much more competitive. After almost a quarter century in Congress, Mica was upended in 2016 by Murphy. Despite that win, Murphy has to face attorney Chardo Richardson, the president of the Central Florida ACLU, in the Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, Republicans are lining up to challenge Murphy in November. Businessman Scott Sturgill is looking to embrace Trump and made no bones about his support for the White House’s immigration plans, including building the wall.
“I support the president 100 percent,” Sturgill said. “There may be a few policies here and there, but yeah, I support him 100 percent.”
First elected in 2014, Mike Miller has been a state representative in heavily contested District 47 and he now hopes to go to Congress. Miller said he stands behind the president.
“He’s doing great things,” Miller said about Trump. “He’s putting America first. He’s actually creating one of the greatest economies we’ve ever seen in terms of unemployment, job growth, and the Dow Jones.”
So far, those two Republicans have been focused far more on going after Murphy than each other.
Asked about his primary opponent, Miller didn’t exactly take off the gloves.
“He has some attributes…as a businessman, but I just feel like there is some valuable experience to being in the state House,” Miller said about Stirgill. “There is some valuable experience to my life’s experience working in state and federal government…we want to make sure whenever possible to keep government out of the way of a small businessman like Scott Sturgill.”
At the same time, Sturgill has been running online ads and sending out mailers targeting Murphy instead of Miller.
“He’s a 20 year career bureaucrat. He’s never held a job in the private sector,” Sturgill said about Miller “But we are focused on Stephanie Murphy.”
Those ads have centered around Murphy’s actions during recent hurricane, insisting she held a fundraiser at a steak house shortly after a major storm, prompting Sturgill to call her “Steakhouse Stephanie.”
“She was in DC while we were all here with no power and taking on a Category 3 hurricane,” Sturgill insisted.
Miller is focusing his campaign on the differences between him and Murphy, boiling it down to a vote for or against Trump.
“Her first vote is Nancy Pelosi,” Miller said about Murphy. “One of her very first votes was to go against the tax cut. She has voted for partial birth abortion. She has voted to shut the government down. I just don’t think that is where Central Florida is.”
Questions about Miller have centered around whether he is conservative enough to win with Republicans in Orange County and in Seminole County where is not as well known.
Miller emphasized his conservative credentials when he spoke to Florida Daily.
“I’m pro-life, there is no question about that,” Miller said. “ I voted against the Marjory Stoneman Douglas bill, not because there wasn’t some good things in there, but I am absolutely not going to infringe on the right of someone to defend themselves. The 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct to me….. I am absolutely for building a wall and banning sanctuary cities, and getting not only the bad apples that do violent crimes, but those people that came here that broke the law.”
For Sturgill, there are also questions about just how conservative he would be in Washington. While he billed himself a lifelong Republican, Sturgill actually became a Republican in 2008, something the Miller team has highlighted in an ad.
Sturgill told Florida Daily that he is not the first conservative to switch parties,
“Ronald Reagan. Look at Governor Rick Perry. Look at Donald Trump,” Sturgill said. “They were all Democrats at one point, right? We became more conservative. We became Republicans. They are some of the best leaders we have had in our history so that’s political rhetoric. I’m not worried about that. I am worried about getting the job done.”
If elected, Sturgill says he will support term limits and pledged to spend no more than 12 years in Congress. He called for cutting regulations on businesses and says the military will be a top priority.
“I want deregulation as a business owner… I also want to fix the VA system having gone through it with my grandfather who is a World War II veteran,” Sturgill told Florida Daily. “I’ve seen firsthand how bureaucratic, how much red tape there is. Our veterans shouldn’t have to go through that.”
There is a third Republican running in this race in attorney Vennia Francois. Her campaign did not respond to a request for an interview in time for publication.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.