By Lisa Hagen - 03/21/16 03:07 PM EDT
Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) on Monday endorsed Rep. Patrick Murphy over Rep. Alan GraysonAlan GraysonTrump campaign's taco truck gaffe underscores Latinos' political power Dem polling shows Rubio in a dead heat Canova refuses to congratulate Wasserman Schultz on victory MORE for the Democratic nomination in the race for the open Florida Senate seat.
Graham, also a former governor of Florida, pointed to Murphy’s “strong democratic values” as a reason he should win the seat being vacated by former GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Clinton has 4-point lead over Trump in Florida Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate The Trail 2016: Comeback in the works? MORE.
“As Florida’s Governor and as a U.S. Senator, I worked hard every day to grow our middle class, protect our workers, and fight for our seniors,” Graham said in a statement. “Patrick has the right priorities and I’m proud to support him as Florida’s next Senator.”
Murphy and Grayson are in a heated primary campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Graham’s endorsement gives Murphy a major boost as the party’s establishment continues to rally around him. President Obama and Vice President Biden recently threw their support behind Murphy.
Grayson is under fire for continuing to run a hedge fund while in Congress. Top campaign staffers, who have since departed, suggested last year that he close the account, but the liberal firebrand pushed back on the advice, according to emails obtained by The New York Times.
The heightened buzz around the fund prompted Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidCruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed Warren’s power on the rise Republicans make M investment in Senate races MORE (D-Nev.) to call on Grayson to drop out of the race. But Grayson called the reports about his hedge fund “misleading statements” and “outright lies.”
Murphy has significantly outpaced Grayson in fundraising, but a Public Policy Polling survey from earlier this month found Grayson leading Murphy by double digits, though nearly half of voters are undecided.