Rep. Stephanie Murphy Flames Party For Promising ‘Rainbows And Unicorns,’ Abandoning Moderates

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Retiring Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy called out Democratic leadership for repeatedly siding with the left flank of the party against moderate members during a Friday interview.

Murphy, a co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, speculated that congressional leaders direct left-leaning interest groups to advocate for their specific positions and browbeat moderates. She noted her experience receiving criticism for her vote to support Kate’s Law, a bill that increased prison sentences for illegal immigrants found re-entering the country, as well as her lukewarm support for the Build Back Better social spending package.

“A lot of these outside groups that purport to represent a specific interest are just an extension of leadership. Instead of purely focusing on their issue area,” she told Politico’s Rachael Bade.

Murphy noted her experience with organized labor and environmental groups during infrastructure negotiations. Those groups remained focused on the Build Back Better package, despite the fact that the bill had not yet been written, and not the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Like Democratic Party leadership, labor and environmental groups urged members to wait to support the IIJA so that they could vote for Build Back Better.

“Labor didn’t start whipping the infrastructure bill until three months after it had passed the Senate,” Murphy explained, saying she thought that party leadership sends “smoke signals” to outside groups telling them that they should support a piece of legislation.

TOPSHOT – Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden speaks during the SEIU Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles, California on October 4, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

“We had environmental groups that were calling us before the legislation text for the Build Back Better Act had been put out, calling us saying, “If you don’t support that, we are going to delist you,'” she added. “They couldn’t define it specifically because nobody had seen the text. But we had the text for the infrastructure bill and not a peep out of them advocating for that.”

Murphy also noted the large amount of money Democratic interest groups have spent against moderate members of the party. Outside groups have spent more than $424,000 against frontline Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, according to OpenSecrets. Murphy herself beat back a 2018 primary challenge from an American Civil Liberties Union attorney endorsed by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

A frequent critic of the “Squad” and other left-wing Democrats, Murphy has complained about a “toxic” environment with “plenty of Dem-on-Dem violence.” She directly blamed party leadership for that atmosphere in the interview. (RELATED: Dem. Rep Labels Anti-Hate Resolution ‘Hollow At Its Core’)

“You can’t promise rainbows and unicorns when you know that you don’t have the votes for it. Because the difference between rainbows and unicorns and political reality is going to be disappointment and anger,” she said.

Murphy is one of 31 House Democrats who have already announced that they will not run for re-election in 2022. Her seat is considered a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans.