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Courtney & Murphy: Which one runs for the Senate?

Former Hartford Mayor Ann Uccello once wanted to be a U.S. Senator.   A few years ago she told me a story of way back in 1970 when she met with then Congressman Lowell Weicker about the race for the senate seat then held by Senator Thomas Dodd.   Uccello and Weicker were rising stars in the Republican party and both had caught the attention of President Richard Nixon.   It was a Republican year and it was believed either one could be elected.    Uccello told me Weicker really wanted to be a senator and so she decided to back him rather than challenge him in a primary, quelling her own ambition.     She put thoughts of becoming Connecticut’s first female senator on the back burner, and at the urging of Nixon and other Republicans, ran for the 1st congressional seat.   The popular mayor was soundly defeated in this heavily Democratic district and her dreams of the senate were over. 

Running for the senate is a moment that must be seized because the opportunities don’t come around that often, especially open senate seats.    If Congressmen Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy pass on 2012, they won’t get a chance again  until 2018, and that’s only if a Republican is elected.  If Courtney passes and Murphy runs and wins, Courtney’s dream of the senate may never be realized.      Keep in mind Senator Joe Lieberman was first elected in 1988, and Senator Chris Dodd in 1980.   Dick Blumenthal is the first new senator elected in more than a generation. 

At first glance, Congressmen Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy seem pretty equal.   They were both elected in 2006, largely on the unpopularity of then President George W. Bush.    They both knocked off incumbent Republicans.   Courtney’s defeat of Rob Simmons was a narrow win overshadowed by the pummelling by Murphy of congressional titan Nancy Johnson.    That victory made Murphy the darling of the myleftnutmeg crowd. 

In 2008, both Murphy and Courtney were easily re-elected.  This time,  Courtney won by a greater margin, 66% to Murphy’s 59%,  This past year both were re-elected,  and again Courtney’s victory was by a larger margin than Murphy’s:   60% to 54%.     Courtney received about 26,000 more votes than Murphy.  

So who makes the better candidate for the Senate?   Murphy has a more liberal record than Courtney, and that could help in a primary.   Courtney has a more moderate reputation, that could appeal to some of those Lieberman voters in a general election.    He also voted against TARP, which scores points with independents and Republicans.

Will both Courtney and Murphy run?  Possibly, but I doubt it.  Maybe they’ll have a Uccello Weicker type meeting and hash out a deal, although the voters would be better served if both men ran and voters got to make the choice.   Throw in Susan Bysiewicz and maybe Ted Kennedy, Junior and we would have quite a primary campaign.

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3 replies »

  1. Interesting. I bet Murphy runs, he has already dreamed of this and said how interested he is in the Senate, but I see Bysiewicz winning the primary and then taking on McMahon in the General Election… Bysiewicz vs. McMahon — Bysiewicz all the way!

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  2. 2016 is the next Senate opportunity, maybe sooner. If Obama wins re-election, Blumenthal could find a position in the new Administration — maybe Attorney General. He has a lot of experience there. And a special election in CT could reliably be expected to produce another D Senator.

    If the Rs regain control of the Senate, as is very possible in 2012, Blumenthal might even find a job like AG preferable to serving in the minority.

    Two other factors should also be considered: age and ambition. Courtney is about 20 years senior to Murphy. Presumably, he has less time to wait around for a Senate opening. Murphy has ambition. He doesn’t wait around very long in his elected positions before he moves on to the next one.

    There will be a D primary. Even if Murphy and Courtney step aside, others will emerge to challenge Bysiewicz.

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  3. There’s no comparison between Chris Murphy and “King” Courtney. If Courtney ran against Caliguiri, he might have won by 5 at most.

    If Murphy had run against Peckinpaugh, it would have been 80-20 Murphy!!

    Murphy is one tough Democrat, but he’s on the wrong side of history! His adherence to the Global Warming Hoax is unpopular. His Cap and Trade stance is ludicrous. His Health Care Bill was just repealed in the House.

    He is all show and no substance. His boyish good looks and personal charm have got him this far. Without Nancy Pelosi to hold his hand, Murphy will be in uncharted waters.

    It will take a bulldozer to wake up the Connecticut voters. They are DOA at the polls every 2 years. And that’s what Democrats feast on!

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