Democrats Nominate Chris Murphy For Second Term As State Convention Kicks Off
Hartford Courant (CT)
May 19--It was Chris Murphy's night.
In an uncontested coronation, Murphy was nominated by acclamation by Democratic delegates for a second term in the U.S. Senate Friday on the opening night of their state convention.
Nearly 30 years ago, Murphy, 44, took his first steps in political life by learning about Democratic politics from a straight-talking strategist, future state Sen. Biagio "Billy" Ciotto, who taught him how exactly to run a campaign.
"This whole thing has been an absolute dream come true -- everything about it," Murphy told the delegates in reference to his swift rise from the state legislature at age 25 to Congress at age 33 and the Senate at 39.
In an 18-minute speech that he described as brief, Murphy talked to his supporters to say he was "reminding you why we really are here."
Turning to the roughly 2,000 delegates gathered at the Connecticut Convention Center, he said, "You chose to be a Democrat. ... We believe as Democrats that injustice done to one of us is injustice to all of us. ... That's why we're Democrats. Because of that, we're the party of Social Security. We're the party of Medicare. ... We believe that government is us."
Democrats will nominate candidates for other statewide offices Saturday, including the hotly contested governor's race. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not seeking re-election after serving two four-year terms and the race is considered a toss-up between Democrats and Republicans.
In a speech that touched on terrorism, torture, unions, health care, civil rights and gun violence, Murphy said that Democrats support "the real Second Amendment, not the imagined Second Amendment."
Blasting President Donald Trump, Murphy said he "presents this real, every day, unique threat" to the country.
With a rising national profile, Murphy has repeatedly been interviewed on major cable networks like MSNBC, and he raised his status on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by traveling to Ukraine with U.S. Sen. John McCain. Murphy's most enthusiastic supporters have called for him to run against Trump in 2020. But Murphy has downplayed the idea at a time when two major national figures from Connecticut -- former Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman -- never went far in their presidential attempts.
He has risen in the Democratic pantheon to the point that he had no serious party competition Friday for one of the biggest prizes in politics -- the U.S. Senate.
It was a far different story in 2012 when Murphy won a Democratic primary and then eventually won the general election in a tough battle after being outspent 5:1 by Republican Linda McMahon.
This year, Murphy has raised more than $12 million and still had $7.7 million cash on hand at the end of the last filing period on March 31.
Murphy will likely be running in November against Republican Matt Corey, a U.S. Navy veteran who ran against U.S. Rep. John Larson in the 1st Congressional District. A strong advocate of small businesses, Corey owns a window-washing business for high-rise office buildings and operates McKinnon's Irish Pub in downtown Hartford, which is named after his middle name.
In a nominating speech that lasted less than six minutes, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal mentioned the latest gun violence Friday at a Texas high school, saying that prayers and support for the victims of gun violence "are not enough."
"[Murphy] has worked tirelessly and endlessly to end gun violence in America," Blumenthal said to applause in the convention hall. "I'm proud to stand with him for women's healthcare and reproductive rights. ... He knows, and he has shown it in his actions, that he believes that working Americans need collective bargaining and unions to fight for them."
The seconding speech was by Dawn Spearman of Bridgeport, the founder and president of an anti-gun violence group, known as YANA or You Are Not Alone.
"It's very hard to trust politicians, and I honestly don't like them. ... But Chris Murphy gives me hope," Spearman said. "He spoke over 15 hours, one of the longest filibusters in history, to enforce background checks and get illegal guns off streets."
As part of Murphy's support, a large gaggle of partisan Democrats gathered outside the Connecticut Convention Center with red signs and chanted in unison. They chanted constantly until Murphy showed up around 5 p.m. and delivered a brief speech near the convention entrance.
"I'm not taking anything for granted," Murphy told the crowd. "This is a really big night. This is going to be a really, really big weekend."
Malloy, Wyman Say Farewell
Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are not running this fall -- and they received featured speaking spots Friday.
Malloy, one of the nation's most unpopular governors, began the process of burnishing his legacy. His 20-minute speech focused on what he percieves as high points of his nearly eight years in office, from enacting tougher gun control legislation to raising the minimum wage to new protections for transgender people.
"Democrats don't worry about how rich they can make their friend," Malloy said. "They worry about how they can make their community richer. ... We believe it's our obligation to tell the truth. Every single day. ... Good news. Bad news. Neutral news."
Talking about gun control in Connecticut following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Malloy asked, "Do we have the strength to do it outside the Northeast?"
Malloy said that Democrats need to fight against the Trump administration on helping immigrants to gain financial aid and other assistance.
Wyman received cheers when she mentioned that Democrats support the right to organize for unions.
"November is right around the corner -- 172 days away, but who's counting?" Wyman said. "We have a tough election in front of us, but we can beat back Republicans who seek to turn back the clock on us. We all have to hit the pavement for our candidates."
Wyman blasted the Trump White House.
"Trump. Yuck!" Wyman exclaimed.
Malloy has long been viewed as combative and on Friday, he seemed to relish a new role as Democratic attack dog unencumbered by the requirements of running for office.
In a brief news conference after his speech Malloy accused GOP candidates of lying about his record.
"They're not going to talk about how much money [the state prison system] is saving, they're not going to talk about how recidivism is down ro how much safer our cities are," he said. "They're not going to talk about education where we've made massive investments in the districts that needed it most ... they're not going to talk about the jobs that were created ... they're not going to talk about any of that stuff because it doesn't fit the bag of lies that Republicans talk about on a regular basis in the state of Connecticut."
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