WASHINGTON -- Bob Crowder, the Republican who ran against Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) in the primary, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Democrat Patrick Murphy in the congressional race. And he didn't mince his words.
“As a Republican for over 30 years, I'm embarrassed by the radical fringe that has taken over the party. Sadly, Allen West is their poster child, and the hateful, divisive comments he's made throughout this campaign make it clear to me he’s the wrong choice for our district,” Crowder said in a statement.
Crowder, who is the Martin County Sheriff, said he is backing Murphy because "he has the right temperament and respect for others -- including people he doesn't agree with."
Crowder said Murphy can work with both parties and will be a congressman that Florida's 18th District can be proud of, "unlike his opponent."
Crowder has been mum on the West-Murphy race until now. But his wife, Debbie Crowder, endorsed Murphy earlier this month. She cited the fact that West wouldn't shake her husband's hand at a local GOP meeting as one of the reasons behind her Murphy endorsement.
A West campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Murphy said in a statement that it is an honor to receive the endorsement from someone "who puts the interests of his community above politics."
With less than a week to go, West and Murphy are still running in a tight and ugly race. Both campaigns have pointed to polls showing each candidate ahead of the other one. HuffPost Pollster currently shows West leading by 1.7 percentage points.
UPDATE: 8:25 p.m. -- West campaign spokesman Tim Edson claimed Crowder isn't really a Republican.
"Crowder is a Democrat and a sore loser. I’m shocked he waited this long. Perhaps Crowder hopes to continue cozying up to local Democrats so he can be their nominee against Allen West in 2014," Edson said in a statement.