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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    At Mohegan Sun, Conn. Dems unanimously back Murphy for 3rd term in U.S. Senate

    Montville — With lightning speed and little drama, state Democrats on Saturday morning celebrated U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, unanimously endorsing his nomination for a third six-year term.

    Praised as a leader in gun safety and immigration reform, supporters said sending Murphy back to the Senate also would give Democrats a better chance to compromise with Republicans on important legislation.

    With 1,425 delegates gathered in a sometimes raucous ballroom at the Mohegan Sun casino and resort, Murphy said the old-fashioned gathering of the statewide faithful was a chance to energize Democrats throughout the state for the anticipated showdown between President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump.

    Trump, facing multiple felonies in courtrooms from New York to Florida, was a rhetorical punching bag for speaker after speaker in the run-up to anointing Murphy at about 11:26, when the convention roared in acclamation for the nomination.

    "Donald Trump wants to turn us against each other," Murphy said in an 18-minute acceptance speech. "He wants to make Americans feel like we have something to fear from immigrants or trans kids or Muslims or college students. We believe, as Democrats, that America's strength is our diversity and that everyone belongs here. This fall, Donald Trump is going to advertise himself as a president who will destroy our democracy, who will use government to target political enemies, to walk away from the rule of law, legitimize violence as a political tool. We as Democrats believe that democracy is worth protecting and saving and that violence has no place in our politics."

    The 50-year-old senator charged that if Trump were to win election to another term as president, he would criminalize abortion, restrict health care and assert government control of books and marriage rights. "We believe that abortion is a right," Murphy said. "We don't believe that government should be in your bedroom or your doctor's office." He said democracy was "under siege" and that the delegates need to keep Connecticut blue. History will remember this year in the nation's history, he stressed.

    "You are here," Murphy said. "The time is now. The place is here. Are you willing to fight?" The crowd, arranged in alphabetical rows in a sprawling, airplane hanger-like meeting area, cheered.

    Murphy's presumptive challenger, Gerard Smith, first selectman of Beacon Falls, had only $24,000 on hand in the latest federal campaign filing, compared to Murphy's $9 million. During a brief news conference before the convention, Murphy told reporters that he expects to help 5th District U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes in her battle for reelection to the House.

    "I think everybody in Connecticut knows when I run, I run a coordinated campaign," he said. "So within what's allowable by the law, I'm going to spend money not just to help myself, but to make sure that Democrats do well across the state. Jahana is a close friend , so I'm absolutely going to spend a lot of time with her."

    He said gun violence remains his chief motivating issue for a possible third term, but bringing Republicans and Democrats together is another. "I will not feel that I've been a success in this job until we pass universal background checks and pass a ban on assault weapons, and I believe both are possible in my next term," he said.

    "I think Joe Biden's going to be reelected," he told four reporters. "I think this country does not want to go back to the chaos of Trump. I think that (reproduction) choice is going to be a turnout issue, a driving issue for the electorate, but it'll be a close race. There's are a lot of people out there who are anxious, who are angry and the message of division that Donald Trump is selling, unfortunately, has some resonance in big parts of the country."

    Speakers at the convention, which lasted about 100 minutes, targeted Trump, including Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, noting that Saturday's event was the first time a Democratic convention had been held in the 2nd District.

    "We can't lose the Fifth," Hayes said toward the end of the convention, which included the selection of electors for the ceremonial casting of ballots after the 2024 presidential election. "The country is counting on Connecticut. Flipping the House runs right through the Fifth." Hayes is facing a likely rematch of the 2022 race against George Logan, an Aquarion executive who is a former state senator who is expected to be renominated later this month. "We can't lose a state."

    "If we lose, just imagine if we lose the House and the Senate," said Gov. Ned Lamont during an emotional five-minute speech that, like Hayes, brought delegates to their feet. "You have no idea what they're going to do. Labor rights: gone. It's scary what they can do. The right to organize: at-risk. Everything that we have fought for as a country going back generations are at risk. and we're not going to let it happen."

    After the convention, Republican State Chairman Ben Proto, in a phone interview, said Biden's term has been a disaster.

    "Chris Murphy and Joe Biden have failed Connecticut and America on an epic level," Proto said, noting that the GOP convention will take place Monday at 6 at Central Connecticut State University. "They've destroyed our economy, destroyed the middle class and made the American dream of home ownership almost impossible. They have failed to protect our borders. and in failing to do so, have allowed enough fentanyl, heroin and other drugs across our border to kill every American multiple times over. They have decimated our military and, in short, in less than four years, have brought about the demise of America."

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