U.S. Senator Chris Murphy says he would understand if his fellow senators believe “he might be getting a little showy.”
First, Murphy grabbed the national media spotlight when, back in June following a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, he launched a 15-hour filibuster in the Senate promising to hold the floor for as long as he could or until Congress acts on gun control legislation.
This week the junior senator from Connecticut is making news again — albeit more statewide than nationally — by walking the entire state. He started on Monday, from Voluntown near the Rhode Island border, and if all goes according to plan, will end on Saturday — 128 miles later — in Greenwich, near the New York line.
“I’m not about to apologize for the showmanship,” Murphy said. “I care about this job. And this is another way for me to find people I represent who normally wouldn’t find me and I wouldn’t find them.”
CTNewsJunkie caught up with in Madison Wednesday morning and afternoon on the third day of his trip, walking and talking with him for about 20 minutes before leaving him as he continued on to Guilford, Branford. Murphy ended his night with a town hall meeting in East Haven.
At the end of each day’s walk, Murphy held a town forum in whichever town he wound up in for the night. On Monday that was Norwich. On Tuesday, Chester.
Wednesday night — in Murphy’s words, “close to the halfway mark” — found him in East Haven.
Actually, Murphy will officially declare he’s halfway done this morning, at a 10 a.m. press conference on the New Haven Green.
“There is nothing like summertime in Connecticut,” Murphy, 43, said. “I decided to spend part of my summer walking the state because I couldn’t think of a better way to meet people and see things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Murphy added: “Since I was elected to Congress, I’ve been trying to find new ways to keep in touch with the people who sent me to Washington, and this is just another way that I can get some new ideas to bring back to Congress while also getting some great exercise. Who knows how far I will get this week, but I’m going to have fun for as long as my legs allow it.”
To follow Murphy on the rest of his walk through Connecticut, check out https://twitter.com/ChrisMurphyCT
While Murphy grabbed the spotlight with his filibuster on guns, his actions failed to get two gun control bills passed.
One of those measures was to expand background checks and another was to block suspected terrorists from purchasing weapons. Murphy ended his filibuster after 14 hours and 50 minutes, making it the ninth-longest filibuster in Senate history.
Both gun control initiatives lost, largely along party lines, as the Republican majority in the Senate defeated the proposals.
Murphy said he spent a lot of time “talking about guns” on the first day or two of his trip in Eastern Connecticut.
“A lot of people misunderstood my position. I was simply looking for tougher rules on background checks,” Murphy said, while walking down Route 1 in Madison on Wednesday. “Once people heard me out, and understood what I really meant and wanted, I had some good give-and-take discussions with people on the issue.”
In Madison, Murphy stopped and greeted a few people along the way, including Andrea Bradford, a Madison resident, who was selling Mums as part of a fundraising campaign for the Friends of Hammonassett Beach State Park.
“I heard about your walk,” Bradford said. “I think it is just great that you are reaching out to the people of the state. I applaud you for that. Good for you.”
Murphy found another fan in Heather Jette, who was selling blocks of ice at a stand near the Madison Boat Yard.
Jette, who also works as a hair stylist and attends Central Connecticut State University, said she thought Murphy walking the state and meeting constituents was “really cool.”
Murphy did point out that while no senator has walked the state of Connecticut in recent memory, “this has been done before by other senators, in other states.”
“Thankfully, Connecticut is a small state,” he added.
Murphy said he’s also gotten an earful from constituents about what he termed the “tenor” of the presidential race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“People keep telling me that the conversation needs to be more cordial, and I agree,” Murphy said. “What kind of example are we showing our kids with the type of dialogue we are hearing?”
As he headed through Madison toward Guilford, Murphy said the walk was taking a toll on his body.
“I’m hurting, I admit it,” Murphy said. “My legs aren’t happy. I have blisters on my feet.”
Asked whether he did any special training to prepare for the walk, Murphy shook his head.
“No, not really,” Murphy said. “I do run regularly. But that’s about it. I’m also not 20 anymore.”
“There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in my schedule — so I need to make sure I am doing 20-plus miles a day to make it by Saturday,” said Murphy.
Murphy said there also was no contingency plan for bad weather, when and if it hits along the way.
“I do have a raincoat,” Murphy said.
Why is making it by Saturday so important?
“We are having a Labor Day picnic at my house,” Murphy said. “And my wife told me I’d better be there.”