Immediately after Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential race early Wednesday, the speculation began as to what Democrat can successfully challenge him in 2020. One name sure to surface is Connecticut junior Sen. Chris Murphy—a rising star, up and comer, articulate, traditional northeast liberal who is, or at least will be, ready for higher office on 2020.
Just how things shake out with President Trump (gulp) will go a long way in determining a Democratic challenger in four years (or earlier if things really go off the rails). Murphy is no stranger to challenging even popular incumbents, most notably his victory in his first race for Congress against 12-term, popular incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson. Many people thought that was a foolish challenge, that he should wait his turn, yet he prevailed.
The speculation game is always fun for The Shad so here are some reasons Murphy would do well to run for the top office in the land:
• Murphy has made multiple appearances on national cable news shows as well as Sunday news shows “ABC This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press. He has impressed in all of these appearances.
• As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Murphy has become a go-to senator for any media outlet that wants an interview or comment.
• Murphy has earned his position unlike other senators or Senate candidates who tried to buy a seat (think Linda McMahon). He has followed a natural progression in elected office. He won a seat in the Connecticut state House, then the state Senate, then the US House of Representatives before earning a seat in the US Senate.
• He’s never lost an election.
• He was among the names of people under consideration for Hillary Clinton’s running mate. The leaked list included some of the most prominent names in the country.
• His is an exceptional interview and never seems out of his element.
• He is an excellent debater—case in point is his debates against McMahon. He was prepared, calm, never seemed overbearing and endeared himself to his constituents.
Ok, how about some drawbacks:
• He is a northeast liberal. The country may have some reservations about going with yet another progressive from our part of the country (Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd were all rejected by the voters).
• He’ll be 47 years old in 2020. Given the fact that this year’s nominees were all pushing 70, Murphy may be considered too young.
• He may have to go up against Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the left who could inherit all of Bernie Sanders supporters. That would be an interesting contest.
• Murphy’s signature issue is gun control. Following the devastating Newtown shootings, he grabbed the gun control issue and ran with it. Unfortunately, the rest of the country—at least now—has no appetite for more gun control measures. If Congress couldn’t get new legislation passed after Sandy Hook, they may never get it.
I started working as the communications director for the state Senate Democrats at the same time—almost to the day—that Murphy was elected to the state Senate. In our time there together I found him to be an excellent legislator and a brilliant politician.
Murphy should certainly be in the conversation for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.