Connecticut’s youngest Congressman, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, announced his U.S. Senate bid Thursday talking about how he wants to change the arcane and august body he wants to be a part of.
“Part of the reason reform can’t occur in the Senate is because of the way they do business,” Murphy said in a conference call with reporters shortly before his formal announcement at the Waverly Tavern in Cheshire.
“The filibuster is in dire need of reform,” Murphy said. “Whether or not it needs to go away, we need to reform the way the filibuster is used.”
And even though Murphy was on the floor for a portion of former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s valedictory speech last November, he strongly disagreed with his elder statesman as he opened his campaign for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s vacated seat.
“I have heard some people suggest that the Senate as we know it simply can’t function in such a highly charged political environment, that we should change Senate rules to make it more efficient, more responsive to the public mood, more like the House of Representatives, where the majority can essentially bend the minority to its will,” Dodd said
Dodd said he appreciated the frustration expressed by many Democrats over the past few years with the use of the filibuster, but he cautioned against changing the rules which make the Senate such a unique body.
“Whether such a temptation is motivated by a noble desire to speed up the legislative process, or by pure political expedience, I believe such changes would be unwise,” Dodd said.
“What will determine whether this institution works or not, what has always determined whether we will fulfill the Framers’ highest hopes or justify the cynics’ worst fears, is not the Senate rules, the calendar, or the media. It is whether each of the one hundred Senators can work together – living up to the incredible honor that comes with the title, and the awesome responsibility that comes with the office,” Dodd said.
But Dodd’s time in the political arena has passed.
“We need to reform the way the filibuster is used so that it is not a means of ordinary, everyday resistance to policy, but only used in exceptional circumstances,” Murphy, 37, said.
He said he knows firsthand what its like to have one Senator hold up a bill because it’s happening right now to his bill that allows a family to participate in the search of a missing loved one.
“We shouldn’t allow a Senator stop any legislation big or small from moving forward,” Murphy said referring to a rule that allows Senators to put secret holds on bills.
Murphy, whose agenda is mostly progressive, used his formal announcement in Cheshire to talk about how he would use the Senate seat to bring about universal health care, end the war, and help bring a manufacturing base back to the state.
As a progressive, Murphy seems to be attracting the same type of support and energy that Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont’s 2006 campaign attracted. He even used an Internet video to launch the campaign. Lamont’s campaign was the first in Connecticut to capitalize on the use of the Internet both for messaging and for fundraising.
The video shows Murphy kissing his wife, Cathy, and hi-fiving his son Owen before heading out in the snow to knock on doors. “Think of this as me knocking on your door,” Murphy says to the camera after calling for a more progressive voice in the Senate.
Despite the demands of a modern campaign and the millions of dollars needed to support it, Murphy promised to run it like he has his previous campaigns by knocking on thousands of doors and talking to voters at small gatherings.
He faces a long list of potential opponents from his own party.
Earlier this week former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced her intentions to seek the Democratic nomination and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents the Second Congressional District, has also expressed an interest in the seat. Also mentioned has been Ted Kennedy Jr. of Branford, who was seen having lunch Thursday with Dodd in the Russell Office Building.