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U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (Hugh McQuaid / ctnewsjunkie photo)

EAST HARTFORD, CT – Although he is not running for re-election this year, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he isn’t watching the election from the sidelines. Instead, the Connecticut Democrat has been leveraging his social media presence to rake in campaign cash for other candidates.

“I have become convinced that we can’t beat COVID if Donald Trump is in the White House and Mitch McConnell is running the Senate,” he said. “The stakes are so high I couldn’t live with myself if I sat back and didn’t do everything I could to get rid of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.”

Murphy, who toured a “pop-up” COVID-19 testing site in East Hartford Tuesday, said he’s used his social media following to help raise millions for candidates running competitive races against Republicans in other states.

Murphy spent several hours on Twitter over the weekend personally thanking users who contributed to the campaign of Al Gross, an independent candidate hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Daniel Sullivan of Alaska.

“Al Gross, doctor/fisherman/activist, can win. But it’s a late breaking close race and he needs help,” Murphy tweeted Sunday. “Can we do $100K? Big goal, but if we win here, GOP has no shot to hold the Senate.”

“I’ve raised 10 times as much money for candidates this year as I did four years ago,” Murphy said Tuesday. “Listen, the stakes are obviously much higher. We’re in the middle of a pandemic that can’t be controlled unless voters make the right choice in November. So I am working harder on the election this year than I have in past years.”

With competitive races in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine as well as close contests in Iowa, Montana, and Kansas, Murphy said Democrats have a shot at flipping control of the U.S. Senate this year.

“Depending on what happens with the presidency we need to win three or four seats. That’s not easy but it’s looking more and more possible,” he said. “I think if the election were held today, Mitch McConnell would lose his position as majority leader.”

Touring the testing site, Murphy said he had himself tested on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.” The test came back negative. He said he wanted to visit the testing site to highlight how easily Connecticut residents can get a test for free if they suspect they have been exposed to the virus.

Hugh McQuaid / ctnewsjunkie photo
COVID testing site in East Hartford (Hugh McQuaid / ctnewsjunkie photo)

“We need to get the word out to people that if you have been in contact with anybody who has COVID, even sitting in class next to somebody who turns up positive, there are really easy ways to walk in and get tested for free. I still worry that a lot of people think it’s harder to get tested than it actually is,” he said.

The East Hartford site had tested 36 people for free by midday Tuesday. First Choice Health Centers runs three or four pop-up testing sites each week, Jeffrey Steele, the organization’s president and CEO, said.

“It’s what’s needed right now,” he said. “Turnout varies depending on the sites, honestly. We’ve had some where we’ve had 80 people to test and some, where there’s only 10.”