On a two-day quest for crucial New Haven votes, Chris Murphy stood in line for a hamburger at Louis’ Lunch and then expressed in confidence in the integrity of the election process, while standing in a senior center plagued earlier this year with alleged absentee ballot fraud.
Murphy, the Democrat running against Republican Linda McMahon for Connecticut’s open U.S. Senate seat, made two stops in New Haven Friday in a last-minute sprint before Tuesday’s election. He plans to return to New Haven for two more events on Saturday to rally his base.
“This is a really important city,” said Murphy while waiting on line at the historic hamburger shop on Crown Street Friday afternoon. “I’ve spent a lot of time here over the last two years. He said his troops will be knocking on “thousands” of New Haven voters’ doors over the weekend. “We expect to get a big victory in New Haven.”
His remarks came as both candidates are focusing on the city that has come to provide Democrats the biggest vote pluralities in statewide elections. Murphy, whose campaign has struggled to excite grassroots enthusiasm in New Haven, is believed to need a big turnout here this year to defeat McMahon; McMahon, looking to hold down Murphy’s urban margin, in turn has opened an office downtown.
In addition, McMahon, in the fight for New Haven, has expressed concern about the fairness of ballots and filed suit against the city in state court, a move some opponents characterized as a tactic to complicate voting in a Murphy stronghold. (McMahon’s team has since withdrawn that complaint. Read about that here and here.)
Just this week, the city disqualified 15 absentee ballots that had been collected improperly at Casa Otoñal, a senior citizen complex in the Hill, and allegedly transported to New Haven’s clerk’s office by a paid member of the statewide campaign staff.
In his quest to rally the base, Murphy showed up Friday afternoon to a different senior complex, the Park Ridge Apartments, a 160-unit apartment complex for the elderly and disabled at the base of West Rock.
That happened to be the site of a separate instance of alleged absentee ballot fraud in a March co-chair race. An 87 year-old woman who lives there said workers from a local party campaign had brought her an absentee ballot, told her to sign it, then took it away and submitted it, one of several instances of alleged fraud in that election.
Informed of that coincidence, Murphy said he wasn’t aware of the allegations, which are still under investigation by the state elections enforcement commission.
Murphy on Friday said he’s not concerned about voter suppression by his opponent. nor about absentee ballot fraud.
“I trust everybody’s playing by the rules,” he said.
He said he’s focused, instead, on motivating his base to get to the polls.
He showed up shortly before 2 p.m. to Park Ridge at 40 Austin St. He walked to the basement, where Democratic ward co-chair Audrey Tyson had arranged the stop for Murphy and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
Ted Kennedy, Jr., of Branford, joined them in speaking before some 100 seniors. Tyson is a ward co-chair whose campaign had been the focus of the absentee ballot complaints in March. (She denied any improprieties.)
“Some of you have never met me before,” Murphy told the crowd. “You may have seen me in some of Linda McMahon’s TV ads.”
He recounted his mother’s modest upbringing in New Britain, vowed to fight for Social Security and Medicare, and asked for seniors’ votes.
Dawn Guercia said she hadn’t previously had a good impression of Murphy, a U.S. Congressman from the western part of the state, before Friday.
“I was not impressed with him on the TV ads at all,” she said. She said he looked “stoic” and never smiled. After seeing him speak Friday, she pronounced herself “very, very impressed.” He is “charming,” she added.
Guercia said she hasn’t voted yet and does not discuss whom she votes for.
A Turn In Line
About an hour earlier, Murphy stopped into the birthplace of the hamburger for a bite to eat and a chance to shake some hands. Asked why he chose Louis’ Lunch, he replied, “It’s good food.” And “I have to eat.” He said his wife used to live in New Haven when she worked for New Haven legal aid. He used to go to Louis’ on visits to New Haven to see her, before they got married.
Murphy’s team placed an order on his behalf. As Murphy came near the counter, cook Paul DeNegre (pictured) took a moment to razz the candidate.
“You never paid your tab from last week!” said DeNegre, referencing McMahon’s ads highlighting Murphy’s late mortgage payments.
DeNegre, who lives in East Haven, later said he was only giving Murphy a hard time. “I’m voting for Chris,” he said.
Ted Kennedy, Jr., son of the late senator of the same name, has been campaigning with Murphy for the past two weeks. He showed up to Louis’ and ordered four burgers.
He waited, like everyone else, for the slices of white bread to make their way around the conveyer-belt toaster, and for the burgers to sizzle just the right amount in their vertical ovens before emerging from the tiny kitchen.
Murphy sat down next to Alderman Doug Hausladen and ate a burger with cheese (no ketchup). Kennedy appeared impatient for his order.
“Where am I on that dance card?” Kennedy (pictured) asked in good humor.
“Same place you were last time you asked,” DeNegre replied.
Most of the people Murphy met at Louis’ hailed from outside the city—towns like Wethersfield, Seymour, and North Haven.
One New Haven voter, an accountant named Carlos Medeiros, revealed that he had applied to work for McMahon’s campaign. He said he interviewed directly with McMahon for the job. He didn’t get the job, and he didn’t end up working for any campaigns. Even though he applied to work for McMahon, he said he plans to vote for Murphy.
“I keep my political views and my work separate,” he said.
Murphy plans to return to the city Saturday for a rally with supporters at 2 p.m.
About an hour earlier, Murphy stopped into the birthplace of the hamburger.
Not so fast.Read this.
When and where was the hamburger invented?
There are several accounts of the invention of the hamburger. All take place in the United States near the end of the nineteenth century.
Residents of Hamburg, New York, which was named after Hamburg, Germany, attribute the hamburger to Ohioans Frank and Charles Menches. According to legend, the Menches brothers were vendors at the 1885 Erie County Fair (then called the Buffalo Fair) when they ran out of sausage for sandwiches and used beef instead, naming the result after the location of the fair. Frank Menches’s New York Times obituary states instead that these events took place at the 1892 Summit County Fair (in Akron, Ohio).
Another election where i’m voting against someone (Linda) instead of voting FOR someone i believe has my best interest in mind. Is he really the best we came up with in a cosmopolitan state that includes such educational icons as Yale, the Coast Guard Academy, Wesleyan, Choate, and East Haven High School? Damned crooked two party system
posted by: eastshore on November 3, 2012 12:21am
LIttle Ceasar’s Pizza? Makes the whole superstar wrestling thing taste a little less foul.
posted by: 47Alan on November 3, 2012 9:40am
Walt, I hope you feel a little better after I’ve shared this with you. I work for a Republican in the CT legislature. Chris Murphy used to be in the legislature & also worked as a state Senator. He never seeks the limelight and works harder than practically anyone else. Folks from both sides of the isle greatly admire him and his worth ethic. I have sent Republican citizens to him when they couldn’t find anyone else to help them and he always does. Did you know he’s a graduate of Williams College, Oxford Univerity in England and UConn Law school? He is one smart guy and has no ego. What you see is what you get. When he decided to run for Congress no one at the Capitol was surprised to see practically everyone willing to endorse him. A lot of politicians are smooth, and seen out a lot at every event. Instead you’ll find Murphy working, or spending the small amount of free time he has with his wife and two sons. No one hears a lot about him because he has no desire to be a political “movie star”, but it is usually the ones that we hear the least about that get the most done. Believe me when I say we are truly lucky to have him on our side in CT, and this coming from a Republican!
posted by: HhE on November 3, 2012 9:46am
Me too, Walt B. Me too.
East Haven High School? I would have picked Greenwich.
posted by: HhE on November 3, 2012 12:26pm
Excellent attention to detail, eastshore. An Italian-American serving Little Cesar’s in New Haven? That is vile.
Thank you 47Alan. That does make me feel better.
posted by: robn on November 3, 2012 12:45pm
Chris Murphy should have hired you for a campaign manager because in one succinct paragraph you’ve done something his bungling and now panicking campaign managers haven’t been able to do; paint a lucid portrait.
posted by: David S Baker on November 3, 2012 4:25pm
I dunno gang… according to the ads Linda McMahon has been running on a loop (at nearly every media outlet in the state) this guy is why we have no more firearm manufacturing, AND he likes to drill holes in babies skulls if they are the wrong gender AND he’s only running because he wants to flush CT down the toilet! Conversely, you need to vote for Linda because she already has too much money so is obviously only doing this for altruistic reasons. He is also a WHITE MALE!!!!! MWA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!!! (Distant thunder)
Seriously tho, I’m voting against Linda too. Chris may be tied up in party politics and the ‘DC Machine’ a tad, but he knows how to run an honest campaign. That lady is freakin’ insane.
This opinion is not affiliated with any candidate or candidates committee. Go Rosa.
posted by: Walt B on November 4, 2012 1:10am
Damned two Hamburger system! I feel absolutely no better my Republican compatriot, but i appreciate the gesture. Take me away Maker’s Mark Manhattan…..ahh, a Red State buzz for a troubled leftist mind. The feeling of sweet compromise. Or just the Bourbon kicking in. Hope i feel this good Tuesday.
posted by: HillVilleAnnex on November 4, 2012 9:45am
I didn’t know much about Chris Murphy before your post. I’m much more comfortable about voting for him now. Like Walt B, until now I was going to vote against Linda McMahon. The campaign has to do better branding next time.
posted by: WoosterStreetNeighbor on November 4, 2012 2:33pm
As I just posted in another thread, I was just called by the McMahon campaign, asking if she could “count on my vote Tuesday.” When I got done laughing, I told the woman absolutely NOT, which got her laughing. She then admitted to me that she was getting a lot of reaction like that. What the heck is Linda doing paying people to call identified, politically active DEMOCRATS two days before the election? What a waste of money.
dmarie: when you have almost limitless cash reserves, you NEVER are wasting money ;-)
I’m voting for Chris Murphy. With that out of the way, I don’t think Linda is a monster. I strongly disagree with the morality and values evidenced in her production, but don’t think that her being part of systemic sexism and amorality disqualifies her as a Senator.
I don’t think a McMahon win is that big of a deal. Everything I care about right now (Obamacare, DOMA, tax cuts, etc) hinge not on McMahon vs Murphy but on Obama winning.
I think that Democrats do ourselves a disservice when we try to paint the other candidate as a blood-crazed monster spewing flames and slaughtering babies. It has absolutely turned me off in this campaign.
These smaller, more local campaigns shouldn’t go so negative—this isn’t the presidency, Supreme Court appointments and Roe v Wade aren’t at stake on a candidate by candidate basis.
Murphy or McMahon should win based on their outreach to voters, not on blanketing TV with nasty messages and spreading a message of fear.
I have no respect for anyone politically—our local DTC for instance—that speaks about fear instead of benefit.
I think the lack of interest in voting for Murphy, and the “voting against McMahon”, sentiments are both directly tied back to the messaging, which has been all about how evil McMahon is.
Luckily, Murphy is in a mostly Democratic district. If this were a more independent heavy district, he’d lose no matter how little McMahon spends, because Independents don’t go into elections thinking one side is the incarnation of Evil.
posted by: PH on November 5, 2012 12:30pm
streever, you usually have a good pulse on situations, but you couldn’t be more wrong when you say that “a McMahon win is that big of a deal” and then follow up with a list of the legislative priorities you are interested in. If you think that having more Republican in the law-writing body of the American government is going to help the future of Obamacare, DOMA or taxes, you need to review how laws get created in this country. Obama is essential, because he has veto power and won’t have any further election agenda to pursue, but he can’t get legislation passed by himself. Indeed, he can’t even get it started without allies in Congress.
If you are more interested in preserving Roe v. Wade, keep in mind that all Supreme Court justices have to be approved by the Senate. Obama is more important for the appointment of justices, but it is important to have a Democratic Senate in place to approve his candidate without having to compromise with stonewalling Republicans.
So if you want Obama to be able to sustain and maintain his policies in the next 4 years, it is VITAL that he be surrounded by as many Democratic allies in Congress as possible, and that clearly means voting for Chris Murphy and supporting his cancidacy as vigorously as you might Obama’s. Furthermore, given the likelihood of Obama winning by a large percentage here in CT, it is that much more important to make your vote and voice count where it may not in the Electoral College—by voting for Murphy tomorrow.
posted by: Walt on November 5, 2012 12:37pm
(The original Walt,here,I guess, not Walt B)
Comments here help as I am not sure yet for whom I will vote. Do not really like either candidate
I think Obama is the worst President in my long lifetime and would tend to vote against any Democrat because they would support Obama under whose leadership, my stock-based pension has had no growth,my Medicare has deleted benefits and increased deductibles each year since Obamacare was passed , the economy has not recovered as he promised and he is requiring my church to finance procedures it believes sinful.
Certainly don’t like McMahon though, but would assume that as a freshman she would be led toward better votes than now appear likely
Folks above picture Murphy as cooperative although his campaign has been as nasty as the wrestling Queen’s has
You folks make switching to Murphy seem a bit more palatable
I guess with all of that as unknowns, though, I don’t know that it is that big of a difference.
I mean honestly, can anyone say with any degree of certainty what a McMahon win means?
McMahon has repeatedly backed gay marriage and abortion.
The only real difference I see between them in stated positions is on economic policies.
Politicians don’t create jobs. Both claim they’d be “job creators”, but it is just noise—just meaningless noise.
As Murphy/McMahon have only reached me to date as being in agreement on the social issues I care about, and both claim to be job creators which I know is malarkey, I’m genuinely left wondering what the difference is.
PH: I’m not trying to be combative about this at all, I hope that is clear. I just really haven’t heard anything truly different that I think is likely.
Are there specific policies that might disappear, specific legislation that would be enacted? Is there anything she has spoken out on that would be really problematic?
posted by: PH on November 5, 2012 2:53pm
The stock market is up 64% from when Obama took office. It is up over 100% from March 2009, two months after he inherited the Bush recession. If your pension plan is struggling it is because you have terrible financial management, not because of how the stock market has performed since Obama took office.
I don’t know what procedures you believe to be sinful, but if you refer to abortion then you should be aware that no federal dollars fund abortion. It is called the Hyde Amendment, and it has been in effect continuously since well before Obama took office. If you find birth control to be sinful, you should take that problematic belief up with your Pope because access to birth control is a constitutional right in America, regardless of President.
Obama made no promises on the level of economic recovery, but it is also naive to think that one person can change the direction of a 300 million-person economy in 4 years. He stabilized a free-fall despite unthinking resistance and unpatriotic obstruction on the part of the Republican-led Congress.
As for your belief that McMahon, as a “freshman” would be “led” to better votes, I would suggest that you think believe that we should be represented by Mitch McConnell, the leading vote counter on the Republican side. I don’t want any of McConnell’s polticis representing my state, and I think you should research his positions on converting Medicare to a voucher program before you get too excited about that. Murphy would also be a “freshman” Senator, but I think he would vote wisely on behalf of Connecticut citizens based on his track record rather than be a sheep to out-of-state Senators. I hope you vote for Murphy, I know that I will.