Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica and his Democratic opponent Stephanie Murphy found surprisingly much to agree on – though they wouldn’t admit it – yet that included their mutual disdain that was on display in a debate exclusively presented Friday by WESH-2 News in Orlando.
During the debate, produced by WESH Friday morning, moderated by political reporter Greg Fox, and presented online Friday afternoon, the pair of Winter Park candidates for Florida’s 7th Congressional District tried hard to disagree on issues such as U.S. military involvement in Yemen, guns, and women’s issues, yet often demonstrated that they disagreed only on details.
The real differences emerged only as Mica accused Murphy of running a nasty campaign to distort and demean his reputation, and Murphy accused Mica of blindly supporting Donald Trump regardless of what the Republican presidential candidate says or does.
Mica is a 12-term congressman who suddenly finds himself in a real fight for re-election in a redrawn district with a well-funded opponent. He sought to dismiss Murphy as someone with little background of accomplishment and Washington Democrats calling the shots for her campaign.
“She was their last choice. They got her at the last minute. They couldn’t find anyone credible in Central Florida to run against me. So what they did was pledged $4 million. So far they have spent $2 million. And talk about distortion!” a clearly frustrated Mica declared. “How can this candidate accept the distortion that they put against me? I’ve been the hardest working member of Congress for Central Florida. I’ve done more for this community… They’re trying to buy a seat and demean their congressman.”
Murphy, a former U.S. Defense Department anti-terrorism analyst and a business professor at Rollins College, sought to portray Mica as overly partisan, someone who no longer represents the interests of people in Central Florida.