STUART, Fla. (AP) -- One of the tea party's most recognizable faces in Congress is fighting for his political future.
Republican Rep. Allen West is seeking re-election to a new seat in District 18, representing Martin and St. Lucie counties and parts of Palm Beach County. He's in a tight race with a 29-year-old political neophyte, Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is portraying himself as a moderate alternative to West's fiery rhetoric.
West has a huge fundraising and name recognition advantage. Murphy's hopes hinge on voters tiring of the congressman's controversial statements.
Among West's most explosive statements of late: An insistence that dozens of Democratic members of Congress are communists, a labeling of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as "vile" and "despicable," and calling Social Security disability benefits "a form of modern, 21st-century slavery."