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Democratic Congressman-elect Patrick Murphy stands before the U.S. Capitol during freshman orientation week (Nov. 2012)
Rep.-elect Patrick Murphy
Of all the big Democratic wins on election night, Democrat Patrick Murphy's defeat of tea party exemplar Allen West in South Florida is one of the sweetest. And it's not just because of who West is—though beating a man as hateful and crazy as West always feels especially great—but also because of the the guy who beat him. We all know West is a lunatic, but we aren't just getting rid of a lunatic: We're replacing him with a genuine progressive, one whom far too many people (including even myself at one point!) were far too ready to dismiss.

When he got into the race, Murphy was a young first-time candidate whom most Beltway folks were all too willing to view the same way West did, as some kind of entitled upstart. He never was. I admit that when we first heard about him all the way back in February of 2011—when Murphy was described as a "28-year-old accountant"—we had him figured for a proverbial Some Dude and even took to calling him "no, not that" Patrick Murphy to distinguish from the much better-known former congressman from Pennsylvania. But Murphy quickly wowed us with his fundraising, and he turned out to be a strong campaigner. After that, we started to take him seriously indeed—though many people had him written off until the end.

But here's a great illustration of the kind of fearless candidate Murphy proved to be: When redistricting gave West the opportunity to move up the coast and seek reelection in the redder 18th instead of his native 22nd, Murphy made an enormously daring move and pursued West on to this tougher turf. Not only did that give Democrats a credible candidate to keep holding West's feet to the fire, but it avoided an expensive primary with fellow Dem Lois Frankel in the 22nd. (Frankel went on to win her own open-seat race; together with Murphy and Joe Garcia in the 26th, this trio gave Democrats an amazing three House pickups in South Florida.)

It was that kind of courage which ultimately inspired us to endorse Murphy and eventually raise almost $100,000 for him. And while Murphy, as you may know, was once a Republican (just like this site's founder), he turned out to be a strong progressive, showing quite a lot of backbone in a swing district like this.

Murphy's win came as a huge shocker to the political establishment; even Allen West's internal polling reportedly had the incumbent up five points on election eve. While we pegged the race as a Tossup, even I have to admit I wasn't expecting a win. But as I say, we took Murphy seriously for a long time, and we never gave up on him.

Murphy, now 29, will become one of the youngest members of Congress. Of course, no one is flawless: There will be some votes he takes that we won't like—that's just how politics works. But if you want one more sign of his good character, Congressman-elect (man do I love saying that!) Murphy even took the time to stop by Daily Kos on Tuesday morning to offer his thanks to the community here, right after West conceded. What a mensch, to remember your supporters at the very moment of your victory. And again, what an amazing victory it was, so here's to many, many more years to come!

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