In his effort to become the Democratic Party’s nominee against Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-5th), state Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Cheshire) scores a visit from the number two Dem in the U.S. House, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Minority Whip. And just to make sure no one missed it, Murphy called the press.[Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Murphy was listed as living in Southington. He recently moved to Cheshire.]
A release from state Senate Democrats billed the Wednesday press event as a chance for state Sen. Chris Murphy, co-chair of the legislature’s Pubic Health Committee, to tour the University of Connecticut Health Center with Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland. The two men would also explain just how federal Medicaid cuts will hurt Connecticut.Indeed, Hoyer lauded stem cell research, and pointed out how cuts in Medicaid coverage increase costs to hospitals, because they are compensated less and less for treatment.But all of that was just the official script.For Murphy’s political campaign, the message from Hoyer’s visit was clear: the Cheshire Democrat has national party support. And Murphy’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Waterbury alderman J. Paul Vance Jr., doesn’t.Asked if he planned to visit Vance Wednesday, Hoyer simply said “no.“Outside interference in a primary is always a touchy maneuver among politicos. Does Hoyer’s visit with Murphy make it fair to say the Minority Whip is picking sides in a Democratic primary?“I think that would not be an unfair thing to say,” Hoyer responded with a smile.National support is considered a key to beating Johnson, as she is the leading recipient of lobbyist dollars in Congress. Hoyer said he could not speak to whether the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would fund Murphy’s campaign, but said he was in the district “with the full knowledge of the DCCC.“Hoyer’s visit hardly went unnoticed by political watchers. On one web site, Connecticut Local Politics, a participant in the discussion thread likened the scenario to a “coronation” for Murphy.