Connecticut Politics and Elections: Coverage, Analysis, Maps and Commentary
A lot of people have asked questions ahead of time. I'll be reposting them here with the name of the writer attached:Ebpie asks:Senator Murphy, can you identify one issue where you differ with the leadership of the Democratic Party?
Anonymous asks...Senator Murphy, where do you fall on 'Catholic issues' like abortion and gay marriage? Also, I would be interested to know if and why you have not supported campaign finance reform?
First, let me say how excited I am to be doing this. Thanks to everyone for joining in the fun.Now, for Epbie's question: Standing up to your party's leadership isn't easy, but when you represent a district that is as diverse as the 5th, it is absolutely essential. I still remember how scary yet exhilerating it felt to be organzing votes against the Democratic budget during my second term in the House. I remember walking around the House chamber, organizing resistance to a budget that our Democratic leadership supported, but didn't have enough funding in it for senior prescription drug programs, glowing with the feeling that I was doing the right thing. At the national level, one thing I am concerned with is our party's role as critic in chief when it comes to proposals to reform entitlement programs. I know Social Security and Medicaire aren't in as dire straits as the President would have us believe, but as Democrats, we can't just be obstructionists - we have to show we can lead too. I will push our national party leaders to be policy leaders as well - not just partisan critics.
Timmy P. asks...How do you respond to the charges that you moved to the district only to run for Congress? How do you overcome this charge while running against a Waterbury native son?
Anonymous asks...Mr. Murphy, you have spoken critically about the DLC to a number of individuals around the district, most recently at the "How to be an effective activist" meeting held in Cornwall last Saturday.What is your criticism of the DLC, and how do you intend to distance yourself from the implied criticism of Rep. Larson and Sen. Dodd, both of whom are DLC members?
Dear Anonymous, as for abortion and gay rights, I am both pro-choice and pro gay rights. I wear as a kind of badge of honor my inclusion as a member of the "Terrible Ten" - the first ten legislators to sign on as co-sponsors of the civil union bill back in 2004. This country was founded ont he principle that individuals have certain personal liberties, and I will not support laws that tell women what to do with their bodies or tell people what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their bedroom.As for campaign finance reform, as I said in my interview, I have been one of the legislature's loudest campaign finance reform advocates over the past 7 years. In my first session in the legislature, I was one of the floor managers for the public financing bill that passed the legislature but was vetosd by Rowland. I am still hopeful that we can pass a similarly strong bill very soon.
Dear Timmy P. - I appreciate the question, but I am confident that this campaign will be about issues and ideas, not about street addresses. It seems a little silly that there might be an issue with my decision to move a few miles down the road within my own Senate district simply because that move put me in a different congressional district. Redistricting threw us all for a loop in 2001. Until then, I lived in Johnson's district (then the 6th), but that year's decision to combine the 5th and 6th put one of my towns into the reconfigured 1st district. I moved to Cheshire because I found a house that I loved and it was the right time for me personally. But I'll never suggest that my interest in taking on Johnson (with whom I've been associated with since I ran Charlotte Koskoff's race in 1996) didn't factor into this decision as well (a reporter from The Hill mis-paraphrased me on this once).As for taking on a candidate from Waterbury, as I see it, the only candidate I am running against lives in New Britain. All my energy is on winning back the 5th for our party, and I trust that the Democrats will unite behind one candidate, sooner rather than later, so that we can focus on our real goal of winning back the 5th.
WTBYFD asks...I am a Waterbury Firefighter and I would like to know why you voted for the State Oversight Board which destroyed the rights to collective bargaining.
Dear Anonymous, as for your question regarding the DLC, I'm not sure to what you're referring. I can't remember the last time I mentioned the DLC by name, and it certainly wasn't in Cornwall. Being a Democrat, by definition, I think, includes accepting our "big tent" philosophy. Make no mistake, my brand of politics is bit more populist than what I understand to be the DLC mantra, but I certainly accept more conservative members of our party as part of our success. In the end, though, we poltical insiders tend to often get too wrapped up in political labels and questions or ideological spectrums. In the State Senate, I've been proud to have worked with all wings of my party, as well as all wings of the other party. It's important to remember that nothing will get done - no solutions will be found - if we simply spend our time labeling ourselves and boxing our philosophies into corners. In Congress, I'll be a proud Democrat, but I will have failed my own constituency if I buy into the Washington notion that bi-partisan cooperation is a sign of political treason.
Anonymous asks...Senator-You seem to have a good progressive record, best of luck. If elected to Congress I hope you will continue to fight for reproductive rights. Rep. Johnson voted against the ban on late term (partial birth) abortion. How would you have voted?
Dear WTBYFD - I think you may have me confused with someone else. If you read the Waterbury Republican-American editorial page most any week, you'll read about this horrible, evil character named "Benedict Murphy". Apparently, he turned his back on the taxpayers of his district by standing up for collective bargaining and voting to repeal the Oversight Board's ability to unilaterally decide labor contracts. The guy sounds like a real heel. Kidding aside, my decision to break with my collegues in the Waterbury delegation by supporting this year's legislation to strip the labor provision from the Oversight Board bill was a very, very difficult one for me. In 2001, when the law passed, I did stand up on the floor and speak out against the labor provision, but I have seen how the Board has helped right Waterbury's fiscal ship over the past several years. I just disagree with the Board's decisions with regard to labor contracts. It was a tough decision for me this year to vote the way I did - but constistency is too often a lost art in politics. I have always stood up for collective bargaining rights, and I had to do it again this year.
Senator Murphy- Thank you for coming on to answer our questions. It's great that a candiate for Congress would take a break from fundraising to interact with voters so early. Anyways, I want to know your opinion on two different issues. Do you think the Federal goverment should take steps (carrots/sticks) to convince states like Connecticut to regionalize there school systems? Also, I am interested in how you feel about needle exchange programs?
Dear Anonymous - Thanks for the question on reproductive rights. As I stated earlier, I am pro-choice. In fact, choice has been a major issue in three of my four legislative races (I beat one of the legislature's leading anti-choice advocates in 1998 - Angelo Fusco). During my first term in the House, I voted against a partial birth abortion ban, and I would do it again in Congress. I actually believe choice will be a major issue in next year's campaign as well. In my mind, you cannot be pro-choice if you support someone like Tom Delay to lead your party. The most important vote on choice issues that Johnson makes every term is her first one - the vote for leadership of her party. And she fails the women of her district every time. We'll get this message out, and we'll win votes based on it.
Anonymous asks...Sen Murphy,I am happy to see such early interest in beating Nancy. Will you be opening a Web-Site soon? Do you have an HQ that I can volunteer at?
DemGurl99 asks...Senator Murphy,I was also wondering about your experience running campaigns, especially Charlotte Koskoff's, and how that will play into this race. I know that Koskoff's campaign almost beat Nancy, and I was wondering if that might help you.
Dear Slow Rheal Cormier - First, what a fantastic name. The Sox are in desperate need a good lefty right now (I could be a more effective left hander than Mike Remlinger, and I'm right handed...). As for regionalization, you're scratching me where I itch. I am a believer in big ideas, and I think campaigns are the forum in which they should be aired. Even though Connecticut is a small state, we should be doing more to consolidate local services (maybe not education at first, but this is a logical exention of success in other regionalization efforts). It is crazy that each of our towns hires an economic development coordinator, who spends part of her or his time trying to lure companies away from other Connecticut towns. This is fiscal insanity at its worst. My point is that I'd love to see more federal incentives for regionalization.As for needle exchange, I worked hard this year to get $125,000 in state funding to start an AIDS treatment mobile van in Waterbury. We won't do needle exchange on the van to start, but all the science shows only one thing - it works better than any other method to prevent the spread of HIV. In Waterbury, we simply need to start by reaching out to the HIV positive population so that we can keep them healthy for as long as possible, and make sure we're taking all the necessary steps to prevent others from getting the disease.
Dear Anonymous (boy, there certainly are a lot of people named Anonymous on this blog): As for a website and headquartes, we will have a website up in a matter of weeks. I am a believer in the power of the internet, so we'll use our site as an active forum for ideas and updates. As for headquarters, we only have a small office open right now that we use primarily for fundraising, but we'll have a full-service office open probably by the fall. For now, you can contact our office at 860-524-8929.
Thanks to Sen. Murphy for being willing to talk to us, and to all the people who either posted questions ahead of time or asked them directly today.Sen. Murphy, you are more than welcome to come back and post on the blog whenever you like. Thanks for taking time out of your day, and we look forward to seeing your site when it's up and running.
Dear DemGurl99 - A large part of my decision to enter politics at such a young age (I was 24 when I announced my candidacy for the State House) was my experience as Charlotte Koskoff's campaign manager in 1996, when we lost to Johnson by less that one percentage point despite not airing one TV commercial. Charlotte, who is very active in my campaign now, told it how it was, and she refused to do the politically "smart" thing by playing to the vast middle and the least common denomimator. You didn't always agree with her, but everyone that heard her, respected her, and it was then that I learned that candidates who expect more of voters, will get more in return.During the first hour's interview, I talked a little about what I learned from that race in a strategic sense - but the lessons regarding how to conduct yourself as a candidate were far more important, I think.
Thanks to everyone that logged on or submitted questions ahead of time. I have to run now, but I'll come back on the site in the next few days and answer the remainig questions we didn't get to. If folks want to reach me off-blog, they can e-mail the campaign at email@example.com or call us at 860-524-8929.Thanks again to Genghis and everyone else! Have a great weekend!
Sen. Murphy-You didnt really answer my question. In 2001, you voted to strip labor rights in Waterbury, I want to know why you voted that way.
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