Both Allen West and Patrick Murphy Claim Wide Lead in Close Florida Congressional Race

Could Allen West, a Tea Party favorite, lose in November?

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Despite an inflammatory ad against him, Democratic congressional candidate Patrick Murphy is clobbering Florida Republican Rep. Allen West in the polls, with a new poll released Monday showing the Democrat up by 9 points in Florida's 18th District.

The poll, released by Democratic group House Majority PAC, shows Murphy ahead 52 percent to 43 percent. Polling firm Garin-Hart-Yang conducted the survey, which heavily favored Republicans despite the Super PAC's Democratic leaning. Nearly 45 percent of those surveyed identified as Republicans, while 37 percent were Democrats. [Hard to Sway Granite State Voters.]

The West campaign is not convinced by the poll's results.

"Another day, another phony poll from Patrick Murphy," says Tim Edson, West's campaign manager.

The House Majority PAC poll shows Murphy with a wider lead than seen in previous polls. The West campaign insists their candidate is still out in front. They released an internal poll last week with him up by 11 points. [Allen West Beats Up on Dem for 2003 Bar Brawl.]

"There is a Republican poll showing West up by 11 and a Democratic poll showing Murphy up by 9. I don't know if I believe either of them," says Kyle Kondik, a congressional race expert at the University of Virginia. "If you average them together, you basically get a tie. This race is probably closer than either one is saying."

The poll comes just days after the West campaign reintroduced Murphy's arrest record into the campaign conversation. A harsh ad was released Friday contrasting West and Murphy in February 2003, when West was deployed to Iraq and a 19-year-old Murphy was thrown out of a bar in South Beach and arrested for verbally assaulting a police officer. The ad juxtaposed Murphy's mugshot to a picture of West in a suit.

"Two men. A country in crisis. You decide," the narrator said in the ad.

West, who has developed a reputation as a Tea Party darling in Congress, seems to be heavily trailing with moderates in his district.

"I think what the poll says is that despite the barrage of false and negative attacks, the voters of this district believe that Patrick Murphy's vision of job creation and protecting the promise to seniors is what is best for Florida," says Anthony Kusich, Murphy's campaign manager.

The House Majority PAC has planned to run $1.5 million in attack ads against West this election cycle. The Murphy campaign also confirmed Monday it will release a rebuttal ad to West's early this week.

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