Chris Murphy deserves another term in Senate

As a Democrat, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy has spent the last four years of his six-year term in the minority. Such a situation would hinder the effectiveness of any elected leader, never mind a freshman senator. Yet Murphy has not only managed to influence important legislation, he has emerged as a national voice on significant policy matters.

When, following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, Republicans sought to destroy the Affordable Care Act — with no plans to replace it despite Trump’s promises to the contrary — Murphy was part of the vanguard that beat back the attempt. In the process he defended protections for people with pre-existing conditions and access to health care for millions.

The Connecticut senator fought effectively not only in the chamber, but also in the court of public opinion. That has become a hallmark.

With an eye toward passing on Connecticut’s farming culture to future generations, the senator introduced and saw approved the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, which creates a student loan forgiveness program for farmers with less than 10 years of experience.

His ability to secure a $348,000 Defense Department grant is enabling the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments to study housing and infrastructure needs for the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, information that should guide improvements that further insulate the base from future base-closing initiatives.

Murphy has become a nationally recognized proponent for reasonable gun legislation. On June 15, 2016, after a mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., Murphy took to the Senate floor to conduct one of the longest filibusters in history, in the process forcing a Senate vote on gun control. Unfortunately, Republicans continue to block such commonsense measures as requiring universal federal background checks for gun purchases and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Yet in 2017, after another mass shooting in Texas, Murphy was able to work with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to pass bipartisan legislation that strengthens the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, including making sure the military feeds information into the data base about personnel disciplined for violent misconduct.

Along with the rest of the state’s delegation, Murphy has worked in the Senate to secure defense funding for the expedited submarine production program at Electric Boat and for Connecticut’s other defense industries.

In his coming re-election bid, the incumbent faces a challenge from Republican Matthew Corey, a window washer and bar owner who contends he can take to Washington an understanding of the struggles of working-class people and small business owners in a way Murphy, who has made a career of politics, cannot.

Also on the ballot are Libertarian Richard Lion and Green Party candidate Jeff Russell.

The editorial board met with both of the major party candidates.

Corey’s policy positions line up with current conservative orthodoxy. He pledged, if elected, to work with the Trump administration for the benefit of Connecticut and sees Murphy’s criticism of the president as unhelpful.

While acknowledging the long-term threats posed by climate change, he contends the United States is already the world leader in renewable energy and conservation. In reality, many nations are ahead of us. Corey told us he agrees with the president that jobs and economic growth should not be hindered by regulating the energy sector in the interest of limiting greenhouse emissions.

Corey is firm on immigration, saying no immigrant who came here outside of the legal process should be provided a path to legal status. They first must return to their homelands and begin the process, he said. We don’t see that as realistic. Unfortunately, it was clear in our conversation that Corey buys into the president’s alarmist rhetoric about border security.

It was refreshing to hear his opinion that conservatives need to do a better job of bringing their philosophy of self-reliance, growth and opportunity into the urban centers. Unfortunately, as the recent tax cut bill passed by the Republicans demonstrates, the party remains more focused on the country clubs.

On the major issues, Murphy’s policies align far better with our editorial board. Still, we would have preferred a fair fight. It is anything but, Murphy having amassed $14.5 million for his re-election bid, Corey less than $85,000. Such discrepancies are why this newspaper seeks federal campaign finance reforms. Unfortunately, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which illogically equated corporate cash with free speech, makes that difficult.

But give Corey his ideological due. He still backs the Citizens ruling.

The Day endorses Chris Murphy in the U.S. Senate race.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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