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Chris Murphy (Connecticut politician)

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Collection: 1973 Births, Alumni of Exeter College, Oxford, American Gun Control Advocates, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Polish Descent, Connecticut Democrats, Connecticut State Senators, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Democratic Party United States Senators, Irish Diaspora Politicians, Living People, Members of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut, People from New Haven, Connecticut, People from White Plains, New York, United States Senators from Connecticut, University of Connecticut School of Law Alumni, Williams College Alumni
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Chris Murphy (Connecticut politician)

Chris Murphy
United States Senator
from Connecticut
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Serving with Richard Blumenthal
Preceded by Joe Lieberman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Nancy Johnson
Succeeded by Elizabeth Esty
Member of the Connecticut Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Steve Somma
Succeeded by Sam Caligiuri
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
from the 81st district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Angelo Fusco
Succeeded by Bruce Zalaski
Personal details
Born Christopher Scott Murphy
(1973-08-03) August 3, 1973
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Cathy Holahan
Children 2
Alma mater Williams College (B.A.)
Exeter College, Oxford
University of Connecticut School of Law (J.D.)
Religion Protestant
Website Senate website
Campaign website

Christopher Scott "Chris" Murphy (born August 3, 1973) is the junior United States Senator from Connecticut and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served in the United States House of Representatives, representing Connecticut's 5th congressional district from 2007 to 2013. Before being elected to Congress, Murphy was a member of both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, serving in the Connecticut House of Representatives (1999–2003) and the Connecticut Senate (2003–07).

After four-term incumbent Joe Lieberman decided to retire, Murphy announced his candidacy for the 2012 U.S. Senate election. He defeated former Connecticut secretary of state Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary, and subsequently defeated Republican candidate Linda McMahon in the general election.


  • Early life, education, and early career 1
  • Connecticut Legislature 2
    • House of Representatives 2.1
      • Elections 2.1.1
      • Tenure 2.1.2
    • Senate 2.2
      • Elections 2.2.1
      • Tenure 2.2.2
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
    • Committee assignments 3.3
  • U.S. Senate 4
    • 2012 election 4.1
    • Tenure 4.2
      • Health care 4.2.1
      • Gun laws 4.2.2
    • Committee assignments 4.3
    • Funding 4.4
  • Personal life 5
    • Financial problems 5.1
  • Electoral history 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life, education, and early career

Murphy was born on August 3, 1973, in White Plains, New York, the son of Catherine A. (née Lewczyk) and Scott L. Murphy.[1] He is of Irish and Polish descent.[2] Murphy's father is the managing partner of Shipman & Goodwin, a Hartford law firm, and his mother is a retired ESL teacher from the Hamner Elementary School in Wethersfield. Murphy has two younger siblings, a sister, Susannah, and a brother, Ben.[3]

Murphy is a graduate of George Jepsen.

Murphy was first elected to office in 1997, when he won a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission in Southington.[6]

Connecticut Legislature

House of Representatives


In 1998, at age 25, Murphy challenged 14-year incumbent Republican State Representative Angelo Fusco. Murphy was endorsed by the six largest labor unions in the state. The CT Employees Independent Union endorsed Murphy, the first time the union endorsed Fusco's opponent.[7] Fusco described himself as a union member, an environmentalist, and a moderate.[8] Murphy defeated Fusco 55%-45%.[9] In 2000, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Barbara Morelli 68%-32%.[10]


As early as March 1999, he criticized U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Johnson's vote for impeaching President Bill Clinton.[11]

In 2001, he was a co-sponsor of a bill to eliminate child poverty.[12] He also proposed legislation that would give free tuition to students of the state's community-technical colleges.[13] He proposed legislation that would ban smoking in state colleges and universities.[14] He co-sponsored a bill that would create an earned income tax credit.[15]

He was a supporter of same-sex marriage as early as 2002.[16] During his tenure he served on the Judiciary Committee[17]



After two terms, Murphy decided to run for a seat in the Connecticut State Senate at the age of 29. The open 16th district had been held by a Republican for more than a decade. He defeated Republican State Representative Ann Dandrow 53%-47%.[18] In 2004, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Republican Christopher O'Brien, 60%-37%.[19]


In 2003, he joined the Clean Car Alliance and supported California-like environmental standards on auto manufacturers.[20]

In 2004, Murphy supported a bill that would ban smoking in all restaurants and bars.[21][22]

In 2005, Murphy authored legislation establishing the new Office of Child Protection, to "better coordinate advocacy for abused and neglected children".[23] Murphy also wrote Public Act 05-149, an act permitting stem-cell research while prohibiting human cloning.[24][25] The act, signed into law by Governor Jodi Rell, made Connecticut the third state in the nation to permit taxpayer-subsidized stem-cell research.[26]

During his tenure in the State Senate, Murphy was one of the first ten co-sponsors of a civil union bill that passed the General Assembly in 2005. On his Senate campaign website, Murphy summarized his stance, "Let me be clear and simple: LGBT rights are human rights. Marriage equality and nondiscrimination in the military, workplace, classroom and healthcare system, based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, are civil rights that must be protected under law."[27] During his tenure he served as Chairman of the Public Health Committee.[28]

U.S. House of Representatives

Murphy campaigning for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008.


Murphy chose not to run for re-election to the State Senate in order to seek the U.S. House seat held by 12-term incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson. In order to challenge Johnson, Murphy moved from Southington to Cheshire.[29] Murphy was elected in 2006 with 56–44% of the vote, defeating Johnson by a margin of about 22,000 votes. He carried 35 of the district's 41 cities and towns, including several that had reliably supported Johnson for decades. He even defeated Johnson by a significant margin in her hometown of New Britain, which she had represented for over 30 years in both the state senate and in Congress.

He was re-elected again in 2008 and 2010, with 60% and 54% of the vote, respectively.


Murphy has received high scores from liberal groups such as Americans for Democratic Action, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and various labor unions; and low scores from conservative groups as the Club for Growth, American Conservative Union, and FreedomWorks.[30]

In August 2008, Murphy sent a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer expressing support for increased oil drilling as part of a bipartisan energy bill.[31]

Murphy supports reform of federal supportive housing programs, which assist low-income people with severe disabilities. In 2008, the House of Representatives passed the "Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act", which Murphy authored to modernize and streamline Section 811, which governs federal supportive housing grants.[32]

Murphy has called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp;[33] however, in February 2011, Murphy voted to extend provisions of the Patriot Act.[34]

Health care reform

In 2009, Murphy helped draft HR 3200, the House health-care reform bill. Murphy defended his role in supporting the bill at a contentious town hall meeting in Simsbury in August 2009.[35][36]

A longtime supporter of health insurance reform, Murphy is a strong proponent of the public option, which entails the creation of an independent, government-sponsored health insurance plan to compete with private companies. Murphy has argued that such a plan would not require government financing and would help to introduce competition into monopolized health insurance markets and help bring down costs.[37]

When singer Justin Bieber said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he admired the health care system in his native Canada, Murphy sent a tweet to The Huffington Post expressing approval of Bieber's comments. Shortly thereafter Murphy noticed that Bieber, in the same interview, spoke out against the practice of abortion, so Murphy sent out another tweet to distance himself from Bieber on that issue.[38]

Ethics reform

In May 2007, Murphy organized a group of freshmen House members to support the creation of an independent, non-partisan ethics panel to review complaints filed against members of the U.S. House of Representatives.[39] He has been credited with helping to shape the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which was passed into law by the House in March 2008.[40]

Murphy sponsored a bill that would subject Supreme Court Justices to the same ethical code that applies to other federal judges, and suggested in 2011 the possibility of an investigation to decide whether Justice Clarence Thomas had committed ethical violations that would justify removing him from office. The matter in question was Thomas's connection to Harlan Crow [41] and other supporters of the Republican Party.[42] Murphy circulated a draft letter to other members of Congress asking the House Judiciary Committee leadership to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act, which would end the Supreme Court's immunity to judicial ethics laws.[43]

Contractors operating overseas

As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Murphy was highly critical of for-profit government contractors operating in Iraq, which functioned with little government oversight and scrutiny. He introduced and successfully passed into law the "Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008" which required private companies that do the majority of their businesses with the federal government to publicly disclose their top executives' salaries.[44]

Local issues

Two home invasions occurred in Murphy's district in 2007 and 2008; the latter in Cheshire being especially brutal, with the rape and murder of a mother and her two young daughters. In response, Murphy proposed making home invasion a federal crime.[45]

Murphy has been a proponent of the proposed New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Line, an effort to use existing railroad tracks owned by Amtrak to provide daily commuter service on par with Southwestern Connecticut's Metro-North service into New York. In 2008, Murphy successfully added an amendment to rail legislation making it easier for Amtrak and the state of Connecticut to cooperate on the rail project.[46]

Murphy proposed reforms of the nation's 'missing-persons' databases, introducing "Billy's Law" in 2009 to improve coordination of law-enforcement efforts to locate missing persons. The legislation was named in honor of Billy Smolinski, Jr., a one-time resident of Murphy's district who disappeared in 2004.[47]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate

2012 election

Murphy announced on January 20, 2011, that he would run for the Senate seat held by Joe Lieberman, who was retiring. It was announced in mid-July that a group spearheaded by a state Capitol lobbyist was forming a Super PAC for his campaign, hoping to raise $1 million to combat a possible opponent.[48]

Murphy defeated former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary and defeated 2010 Republican candidate Linda McMahon in the general election.[49][50] After McMahon's negative ads left Murphy "on the defensive virtually nonstop" and struggling to respond, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent additional staff and money to Murphy to help with his campaign, saying they are "100 percent behind [him]."[51]

On November 6, Murphy defeated McMahon with 55% of the vote and winning every county except for Litchfield.


Murphy took office on January 3, 2013. Murphy has pledged to support fillibuster reform in the Senate, which would change a passing requirement of 60 votes to a simple majority.[52]

Health care

On September 27, 2013, Murphy voted to restore funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as part of an amendment to legislation funding government operations for 45 days, and which also omitted House-passed language prioritizing debt payments if Congress fails to increase the nation’s borrowing limits.[53]

Gun laws

Of gun control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Murphy stated "Clearly, in my mind, there is no reason why anyone should have access to a military-style assault weapon or a magazine clip that holds 30 or 100 bullets."[54] Murphy admitted to using Newtown families to break a GOP gun control filibuster.[55]

Murphy has a 100% rating with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.[56]

In his first month in office, he criticized the National Rifle Association and Apple Inc. for a video game involving shooting with guns that was labeled appropriate for children as young as four.[57]

On June 24, 2015, Murphy stated that: "Since Sandy Hook there has been a school shooting, on average, every week." The Washington Post described this statement as misleading.[58]

Committee assignments


In May 2013, Murphy was awarded $60 million of a total $75 million to house 55 of the 330 homeless veterans living in Connecticut.[59][60][61]

Personal life

Chris Murphy and his wife Catherine (née Holahan) married in August 2007. They have two sons, Owen and Rider.[62]

Financial problems

Murphy has been sued for nonpayment of his mortgage and non-payment of rent, and has also failed to pay taxes when due on several occasions.[63] In 2007, Chase Home Finance sued for foreclosure against Murphy, whose campaign initially responded by claiming that Murphy had missed "a couple of mortgage payments." Murphy claimed that he did not know he was in default until legal proceedings started. Murphy received a loan at the rate of 4.99% from Webster Bank in 2008 to consolidate his previous mortgages after being sued for foreclosure.[63] At the time of this loan, Murphy was serving on the House Financial Services Committee. In 2008, Webster Bank's political action committee made numerous donations to Murphy's campaign and in 2005 and 2006, Murphy worked for Webster as an attorney. In 2008, Murphy voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program which Webster received $400 million in 2009. Murphy's 2012 Republican opponent Linda McMahon accused him of receiving what she called "special interest loans," and called on Murphy to release his financial records. Bank officials and outside experts claim there was nothing improper about the loans made to Murphy.[63][64][65]

During a Senate campaign debate in 2012, he apologized for his past financial problems, saying “I'm not perfect. I made these mistakes and I fixed them. The point is, everyone who has looked into these allegations [of getting a special deal on a line of credit] has found they are completely false."[63][64]

Electoral history

Year Office District/Class Democratic Republican
2006 U.S. House of Representatives Connecticut's 5th District Chris Murphy 56% Nancy L. Johnson (inc.) 43%
2008 U.S. House of Representatives Connecticut's 5th District Chris Murphy (inc.) 59% David Cappiello 39%
2010 U.S. House of Representatives Connecticut's 5th District Chris Murphy (inc.) 54% Sam S. F. Caligiuri 45%
2012 U.S. Senate Connecticut Class 1 Chris Murphy 55% Linda McMahon 43%

Note: In all elections to the House, Murphy also ran on the line of the Connecticut Working Families Party, on a fusion ticket.


  1. ^ "John A. Lewczyk". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  2. ^ Chris Murphy's ethnic background
  3. ^ "Catherine Holahan and Christopher Murphy wed". The New York Times. 2007-08-19. 
  4. ^ "Williams at Exeter alumnus becomes youngest current US Senator". Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ University of New Haven : Ted Kennedy Jr., Sen. Murphy to address UNH Graduates on May 19
  6. ^ Jason Valle (August 14, 2012). "Murphy, McMahon Early Frontrunners in Southington". Southington Patch. 
  7. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  8. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  12. ^ Bill Status
  13. ^ Bill Status
  14. ^ Bill Status
  15. ^ Bill Status
  16. ^ Pollack, Robert C. (November 1, 2002). Record-Journal 
  17. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  21. ^ The Hour - Google News Archive Search
  22. ^ Stowe, Stacey (May 11, 2003). "Smokers Get Ready for Lights Out". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ "Chris Murphy". Your Public Media. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  24. ^ Don C. Reed (July 12, 2012). "Racing for Senate in a Stem Cell State: Murphy and McMahon".  
  25. ^ Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  26. ^ "U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy Receives Graduate of the Last Decade Award". Farmington Patch. June 28, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  27. ^ Wing, Nick. "Chris Murphy's US Senate Campaign Issues section". Chris Murphy for Senate campaign. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  28. ^ "What the Freshman Offer". Eye on FDA. November 14, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  29. ^ Mark Pazniokas (September 14, 2012). "Murphy refuses to release credit score, loan documents".  
  30. ^ "Project Vote Smart - Representative Murphy's Interest Group Ratings". 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  31. ^ DANIELA ALTIMARI October 6, 2008 (2008-10-06). "Congressman Chris Murphy Faces His First Race As An Incumbent". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  32. ^ "Congressman wants more supportive housing". 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  33. ^ "Project Vote Smart - Representative Murphy on H Amdt 197 - Guantanamo Transfer Plan". 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  34. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 26". 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  35. ^ "Getting An Earful". 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  36. ^ "Chris Murphy meets "the mob" in Simsbury, CT". The Next Right. 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  37. ^ Moore, George (2009-08-17). "Opinions differ on public option with local politicians". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  38. ^ Beaulieu, Scott. "Rep. Murphy's Case of Bieber Fever". NBC Connecticut. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Murphy leads Congress freshmen against scandal". 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  40. ^ "Murphy praises pass of ethics bill". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  41. ^ McIntire, Mike. Link "Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics" . 
  42. ^ Millhiser, Ian. "Rep. Murphy Says Thomas' Actions Call Into Question Whether He ‘Can Continue To Serve As A Justice’". Think Progress. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  43. ^ Millhiser, Ian. "Rep. Chris Murphy on Thomas Gift Scandal". Think Progress. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  44. ^ "H.R. 3928 (110th): Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008". Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  45. ^ Three strikes law proposal
  46. ^ Jo-Ann Moriarty (2008-06-12). "House of Representatives approves $14 billion high-speed rail bill to connect Washington, D.C., and New York City". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  47. ^ "Murphy to propose Billy's Law to help find missing adults". Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  48. ^ Haigh, Susan (July 16, 2012). "Pro-Murphy super PAC created in Conn. Senate race". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. 
  49. ^ applebome, Peter (6-11-2012). "Murphy Defeats McMahon After Bitter U.S. Senate Race in Connecticut". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 7-11-2012. 
  50. ^ O'Leary, Mary (2012-08-20). "Murphy, McMahon post decisive wins in primary election". The Litchfield News. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  51. ^ "Democrats sweating Connecticut Senate race". Politico. 18 September 2012. 
  52. ^ Alexander Bolton (November 13, 2012). "Dems short on votes for filibuster reform".  
  53. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > S.Amdt.1974". Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  54. ^ Murphy, Himes Lead Roundtable on Gun Control - Government - Naugatuck, CT Patch
  56. ^ "Rating Group: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  57. ^ Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy slams NRA, Apple for app - Kevin Robillard -
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ Veterans - Issues - The CT Coalition to End Homelessness
  61. ^ - Connecticut Market Overview
  62. ^ "ABOUT CHRIS". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  63. ^ a b c d O'Grady, Mary Anastasia (September 26, 2012). "Chris Murphy's 'I Forgot' Defense". Political Diary (The Wall Street Journal). Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  64. ^ a b "Linda McMahon-Chris Murphy Senate debate: sparks fly over TV ads". New Haven Register. October 7, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  65. ^ Altimari, Daniela (October 11, 2012). "Linda McMahon And Chris Murphy Clash At UConn". Retrieved October 23, 2012. 

Further reading

External links

  • U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, official U.S. Senate site
  • Chris Murphy for Senate
  • Chris Murphy at DMOZ
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Nancy Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Elizabeth Esty
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ned Lamont
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Connecticut
(Class 1)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Joe Lieberman
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Richard Blumenthal
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Brian Schatz
Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
Tom Cotton
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Donnelly
Seniority in the United States Senate
Succeeded by
Mazie Hirono
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