State Rep. Gayle Harrell decides against bid for Murphy congressional seatby George Bennett | August 27th, 2013
Ending months of speculation, state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said today she will not seek the nationally targeted Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat of freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.
“Thank you to those who encouraged me to run for the U.S. Congress. Your faith and belief in me is truly humbling. However, I believe Tallahassee is where I will have the biggest impact and make the most difference for you and our community,” Harrell said in a statement this afternoon. She said she’ll open a re-election campaign for her state House seat.
Three other Republicans have opened District 18 congressional campaigns — former state Rep. Carl Domino of Jupiter, Juno Beach Councilwoman Ellen Andel and former Connecticut GOP Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger. Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner has been eyeing the race as well.
Harrell, who has represented a Martin-St. Lucie district for a combined 9 years in Tallahassee, is probably better-known than those other Republicans in the Treasure Coast, which accounts for 58 percent of the voters in the congressional district.
Harrell ran for Congress in 2008, placing second to eventual U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney in a three-candidate Republican primary.
Murphy is one of only nine Democrats in the House to win election in a district that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried. Murphy edged Republican incumbent Allen West last year and is considered a top 2014 target by the national GOP.