More clarity and more question marks emerged Tuesday for Republicans hoping to unseat freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district expected to draw national attention in 2014.
A second Republican formally entered the race Tuesday while one of the best-known potential GOP candidates — state Rep. Gayle Harrell of Stuart — said she probably won’t make a decision on running until July.
“I would not anticipate any formal announcements until the new fundraising quarter,” Harrell said. “If I do it I would want to have a strong (first) fundraising quarter.”
The next quarter begins July 1. Candidates often wait until the beginning of a new quarter to open a campaign so they can collect three months’ worth of contributions and post an impressive number when they file their first Federal Election Commission report.
While Harrell waits, other Republicans are on a faster decision-making track.
Ellen Andel, elected twice to the town council in 3,200-resident Juno Beach, launched her congressional bid Tuesday with an outdoor event that drew about 100 people to the grounds outside town hall. Andel called for “restoring conservative principles” of smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation and strong national security.
Andel is the second Republican to officially enter the race. Alan Schlesinger, who was the 2006 GOP Senate nominee in Connecticut and recently established residency on Singer Island in Riviera Beach, filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC last week.
Other Republicans eyeing the race include St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery, former state Rep. Carl Domino, Tequesta councilman Calvin Turnquest and businessman Gary Uber. In addition, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner has not ruled out running, well-placed sources say.
National Republicans see Murphy’s congressional District 18 as a prime opportunity to take a House seat from the Democrats. Republicans hold a thin registration edge in the district and Mitt Romney got 51.5 percent of the vote in November while Murphy was narrowly defeating former Republican Rep. Allen West.
Murphy, who raised $4.8 million against West, had $672,013 in his campaign account as of March 31. Murphy was a political unknown when he entered the 2012 race, but raised money nationally by capitalizing on Democratic dislike for conservative firebrand West.
Murphy invoked his newest potential Republican foes in a fundraising appeal Tuesday.
“This is a critical moment for us – Ellen Andel and Alan Schlesinger have both announced they are running against me,” said an e-mail from Murphy’s campaign. “We need to have the strongest showing possible in the next 48 hours to show we have what it takes to win again.”