What you need to know: Murphy presents a clear alternative to West's hard-right policy positions, particularly on foreign policy and national security.
Democrat - Challenger
Endorsed by Council for a Livable World
In one of the most high-profile House races in the country, entrepreneur Patrick Murphy is challenging right-wing firebrand Rep. Allen West (R) in Florida's 18th Congressional District.
"There will certainly be massive changes in Iran in the coming years – and while we should be ready to protect our interests, we should recognize that it's the regime, not the people, who are driving most of the radical policies."
Murphy currently serves as Vice President of Coastal Environmental Services, which specializes in disaster relief and environmental cleanup. In 2010, he spent six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading the company's efforts to remove oil spilled during the BP disaster. Coastal Environmental has been named one of the nation's top "Green Contractors." He is also the Co-Chair of Coastal Cares, which guides the firm's philanthropic work for local and regional charities.
Allen West has quickly risen to national prominence as one of the most vocal advocates of the Tea Party agenda after upsetting Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in 2010 in a campaign marked by heated rhetoric. West has compared Democrats to Nazis, claimed that Islam is not a religion, and criticized President Obama for proposing a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. West regularly subjects his critics and political opponents to vicious personal attacks. He called Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) "vile, unprofessional and despicable" and "not a lady," and said that President Obama is "the dumbest person walking around in America right now." Most recently, he claimed that 80 Democratic Representatives are members of the Communist Party.
Murphy presents a clear alternative to West's hard-right policy positions, particularly on foreign policy and national security issues. He believes that while the United States must confront global threats, it is better to do so with careful diplomacy than reckless use of military force. His position on how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions is indicative of his thinking:
"We must utilize every option to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. In the meantime, we must continue to put intense economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime to move them to more normalized relations with its neighbors and the world.
There is also opportunity in Iran – so dramatically witnessed during the Green Revolution. A huge number of people within Iran – led by its significant youth population – want normalized relations, peace, and democracy. America must continue to remain open to this opportunity and be ready to encourage it, while continuing to condemn the actions of the Ahmadinejad regime and his henchmen in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
There will certainly be massive changes in Iran in the coming years – and while we should be ready to protect our interests, we should recognize that it's the regime, not the people, who are driving most of the radical policies."
Many observers believe West's rhetoric is far out of step with the views of his constituents. When redistricting made the 22nd Congressional District, which West currently represents, more Democratic, West chose to run instead in the 18th. Still, the 18th is a swing district that slightly favored President Obama in 2008.
Nonetheless, West will be difficult to defeat. He has used his fiery and divisive rhetoric to fuel a national fundraising drive, and has raised more than $7.5 million to date.
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