On a sweltering afternoon in late August, Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat running for Congress against a longtime Republican incumbent, stole a half-hour from a crammed schedule for something that grieving residents of this metropolitan area still routinely do: She visited Pulse nightclub, where a gunman ended 49 lives in June.
The club itself has been closed since then, but a patch of the property in front brims with flowers, photographs and rainbow flags, which signal that Pulse was a place where many gay people gathered and many gay people died. It’s an eye-catching, heart-stopping memorial.
Could it also be an omen of political change?
Prominent among the issues that Murphy, 37, is campaigning on is her 73-year-old opponent’s dismal record on LGBT rights. And some Democrats are convinced that this could work powerfully in her favor, especially at this time, in this place. Her district includes much of Orlando, though not Pulse itself, and is home to victims’ relatives and friends.