MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Central Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson wants to turn Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat from red to blue.
“I’m running for the Senate because we desperately need to make some changes,” Grayson told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana in an interview Thursday. “I think Marco’s been a disappointment to many people.”
With Rubio’s sights set on the White House, Grayson has launched a campaign to challenge Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-FL) in the Democratic primary to become Florida’s next junior senator.
“I think Patrick is running in the wrong primary. I think he really is a Republican,” Grayson said.
Grayson points out that Murphy was once a registered Republican and even contributed money to Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
On Thursday morning, Congressman Murphy released a statement which said in part, “I look forward to a clean, honest discussion of the issues in this primary. I have built a strong record of working together to get things done, while remaining true to core democratic principles like protecting social security and Medicare, fighting for a woman’s right to choose, and strengthening the middle class.”
Murphy’s campaign also noted it has nearly $2.5 million cash-on-hand, after raising over $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2015.
Grayson seems unfazed.
“He’s been running for the job for four months now. Whatever he’s selling, Democrats aren’t buying,” Grayson said.
But it’s unclear if swing state Democrats will go for a hardcore liberal like Grayson either.
“I think there are a lot of people in the party who don’t want him to run. And you’re going to see a lot of endorsements. But most of those endorsements are gonna go to Murphy,” said University of Miami Political Science Associate Professor Joseph Uscinski.
Uscinski says if Grayson wins the primary, he’ll have an uphill battle in the general election.
“He’s the type of politician that doesn’t hold back and he gets himself into trouble a lot,” he said, noting the instance in which Grayson said the Republican healthcare plan was for people to “not get sick or die quickly.”
“If you want to look for controversy, Grayson is going to wind up being his own worst enemy because of his mouth,” Uscinski said.
Grayson said he’ll run on the platform of expanding Medicare and getting a raise for seniors through a cost of living increase in their social security.
He said he’s relying on more than 100,000 donors to make small contributions to get him into office.
“I am unbought and un-bossed and I’m the only one,” he said.
On the Republican side, Rep Ron DeSantis and former defense contractor Todd Wilcox are also running.
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is expected to announce his campaign next week.