NEW PORT RICHEY — A large crowd gathered Friday to see Amanda Murphy as the first Democratic state representative from this area since 1996.
Murphy won a narrow victory in the Oct. 15 special election over Republican Bill Gunter.
A vice president for Raymond James and first-time candidate, Murphy succeeds longtime legislator Mike Fasano, who resigned earlier this year to become Pasco County tax collector after 19 years representing West Pasco voters.
Before the ceremony, Murphy chatted and joked with Fasano, whose endorsement of Murphy many had viewed as a game-changer in the hard-fought campaign. Fasano expressed irritation over special election attack ads and mailers for GOP candidates that invoked his name without permission when he had hoped to remain neutral.
Murphy also shared some moments with Michael Cox, Pasco County Democratic Party leader, along with Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.
Doris Rosen, president of the Pasco chapter of National Organization for Women, was among many people who congratulated the rookie representative.
Kurt Conover, business development director for Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, appeared to show his support.
Sylvia Stinson-Perez, executive director of Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, also got a few moments to bend Murphy’s ear.
Fasano delivered the invocation.
“We ask that your hand of guidance be upon her,” Fasano beseeched God as part of his remarks. “As she begins this wonderful journey she will need your help in keeping her path straight, her mind focused, and her priorities in order.
“Help her as she walks through the minefield that is in Tallahassee,” Fasano continued. “The burden can be great, the duties awesome and at times the rewards elusive. May you fill her with joy and perseverance.”
“It means a lot … because you have been a part of my journey in accepting this role,” Murphy said in part. “I am now the servant of Pasco County. It is my goal and my obligation ... to make sure the rules and regulations and laws that come out of Tallahassee are there to benefit each and every one of us, and not just a few.
Murphy asked residents to keep her “grounded” and bring issues to her attention.
Pasco County Judge Frank Grey administered the oath of office.
Since she is filling the rest of Fasano’s term. Murphy could face a quick turnaround to mount a campaign for the 2014 elections when she can seek a full, two-year term.
Cox believes Murphy will have sufficient time to build up a strong constituency should she decide to seek re-election.
Among legislation for the 2014 session of the Legislature, Murphy has introduced a bill to add a medical condition logo onto driver licenses or Florida ID cards. She is pushing a local bill to rehydrate areas such as Crews Lake.
Republican challengers already are gathering for the 2014 campaign trail. James Mathieu of Port Richey has filed to seek the GOP nomination. Mathieu and Jeromy Harding had lost to Gunter in the special election GOP primary.
In the 2013 special election, the Florida Democratic Party poured in excess of $78,000 in cash and in-kind contributions into Murphy’s campaign. The Republican Party of Florida spent more than $250,000.