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Spoke to the White House

Could Trump do a deal with Senator Chris Murphy ’96?


Holiday Greetings

From a few years ago, but still much better than leaving a non-Eph family on the top of the page.


Congrats to Senator Murphy ’96

Congrats to Chris Murphy ’96, newly re-elected senator from Connecticut.

Any other Ephs involved in the elections tonight, either running or managing campaigns?

UPDATE: Fingers crossed for Ed Case ’75 in HI-1.

UPDATE II: Ed Case ’75 wins easily!

Are Murphy and Case the only two Ephs in Congress? How does that representation compare with Amherst/Swarthmore/Pomona?


Very Fine People

Not all Ephs were impressed with President Trump’s press conference.



I also disliked parts of the press conference. (Steve Bannon is definitely a very fine person!)

What did you think?


Chris Murphy’s Re-election Plan

Democratic senators from Connecticut enjoy such safe seats that they can get away with virtue-signalling like this:

Donald Trump’s long-awaited Muslim ban became a reality today. No, you might say, it’s not actually the proposal he outlined during the campaign. True, the ban doesn’t cover every Muslim globally, just a set of Muslims from countries Trump perceives, rather arbitrarily, to be dangerous.

But today’s announcement is anchored in his campaign rhetoric, and the fact that every country on today’s list is a Muslim-majority nation confirms that he meant what he said – that Muslims are dangerous and need to be treated differently than any other set of people.

Is this the primary issue that Chris Murphy wants to fight the 2018 election over? Good luck! I am sure his Republican opponent would love that. The campaign adds write themselves:

Chris Murphy wants to re-settle millions of devout Muslims from countries like Syria and Somalia, foreigners who believe … [insert a bunch of (scary!) true facts about what Muslims in these countries believe about, say, homosexuality, female genital mutilation and the appropriate role of women in society] … Generic Republican Challenger [perhaps female, perhaps a veteran] wants to keep Connecticut safe for the Americans who live here. Who do you want representing you in the Unite States Senate?

There are not a lot of things that could lose Chris Murphy his Senate seat. Becoming the leading voice in favor of more Muslim immigration might just be one of them . . .


Election Thread

There is a US election today. Have you heard? The most prominent Eph supporter of Republican (?) nominee Donald Trump is William Bennett ’65.

It’s time to put aside our differences, elect Trump, and defeat a candidate under an FBI investigation. In America’s government of strong presidentialism, it’s the candidate at the top who matters, and a vote for Trump is the only feasible method of defending the principles of freedom, justice and prosperity Republicans hold in common against the most serious threat we have ever faced, a threat that begins to look like the final defeat of republican government, and permanent decline for the country we love.

The only other Eph I know who has publicly supported Trump is former faculty member John Drew. Are there any others?

The most prominent Eph supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is probably Senator Chris Murphy ’96.

“She has spent time in the highest echelons of government, but she understands that families in America today are struggling to pay all their bills and save for college and retirement while wages seem stuck in neutral,” Murphy said. He also said he’s confident “she understands better than any other candidate, how a balanced approach between hard and soft power is the best way to protect America from developing threats overseas.”

The are scores of other Ephs who support Clinton. Feel free to provide links to their views (and share your own) in the comments. Also, share with us your predictions! Whatever reader gets closest (and first) to the actual electoral vote totals wins epic bragging rights.

I predict Clinton 275, Trump 263. You?


Senator Murphy ’96 Filibusters

From The New York Times:

A Democratic senator frustrated with congressional inaction on gun violence led a nearly 15-hour Senate filibuster before yielding the floor early Thursday, making a pledge that he and his colleagues would press hard for more gun control three days after 49 people were killed at a Florida nightclub.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy ended a series of speeches with his Democratic colleagues at 2:11 a.m EDT after promising at the outset that he would remain on the Senate floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together.” At the end, he said he had won commitments from Republican leaders that they would hold votes on amendments to expand background checks and ban gun sales to suspected terrorists. It is unlikely that those amendments will pass.

1) A longtime reader has requested that EphBlog provide a place for Ephs from all parts of the political spectrum to argue about the issues of the day. So be it! Got an opinion on gun control, feel free to hold forth. See here for useful background reading.

2) What odds would you give on Murphy ’96 running for President someday? Baring election loss or personal scandal, I would say 75%. Almost every young male senator wants to be president, and Murphy will have the experience and fund-raising connections to make a real run in a few years.

3) What are the odds of Murphy becoming president some day? I don’t know. 5%? When he runs, he will have EphBlog’s full support!

4) What advice would you give to Murphy about how best to achieve his goal of stricter gun control?


Eph Politics Round-Up

Kudos to Senator Mark Udall ’72 for batting lead-off in the U.S. Senate’s It Gets Better Video. Nice to see Ephs and Jeffs coming together on this (it also features Amherst alum Chris Coons). Of course, one group is conspicuous in its absence from this video …

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and “conservative legal star” (or at least former star) Judge Jeffrey Sutton ’83 was the decisive vote in upholding the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate in Obama’s health care law. In so doing, Sutton was the first Republican appointee to rule in the administration’s favor.

Congratulations to Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 for receiving UConn’s (where he attended law school) Graduate of the Last Decade award. Murphy, who has been in the news thanks to his proposed Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act, is off to a tremendous start in his campaign for Senate, leading the fundraising race on the Democratic side.

By the way, if Williams had a “graduate of the last decade” type award, who would the candidates be?


Eph Reactions To the Death of Bin Laden

A sampling from across the political and intellectual spectrum:


Chris Murphy ’96 launches run for US Senate


Ephs Win 3 of 4

A good election night for Williams. Three Eph candidates won!
Chris Murphy ’96 for reelection to Congress from Connecticut.
Walker Stapleton ’96 for Colorado State Treasurer.
Martha Coakley ’75 for reelection as Massachusetts Attorney General.

Alas, Doug Hoffer ’85 lost in his race for Vermont State Auditor.

Were Ephs involved in any other elections last night? Any opinions about what the elections mean from our readers?


Verge of a Wave

Is Chris Murphy ’96 in trouble?

State Senator Sam Caligiuri tells Battle ‘10 he expects to win in Connecticut’s fifth congressional district tonight. “We’re seeing some anecdotal and hard evidence that turnout is high in quote, ‘more Republican towns,’ and maybe a little lower in traditionally Democratic towns, but those are all very preliminary numbers,” he says. “I think at the end of the day that turnout will be what it normally is, 55 to 60 percent. But who votes and voter intensity is going to favor challengers and Republicans.”

The Republican candidate started the day in Waterbury, his hometown, before heading north. Now, he’s working his way south through many of the 41 towns that make up the fifth district. As he makes his closing argument, he points to his opening one. “If you think our country is heading in the wrong direction — especially economically — then we have an opportunity to make a change by electing fiscal conservatives. I believe that we’re on the verge of a wave of freshman members [of Congress] who view the world exactly that way.”

Tonight, the places to watch are the cities: Waterbury, Danbury, Meriden, and New Britain. If Caligiuri can garner over 40 percent of the vote in the latter three, he’ll probably beat Rep. Chris Murphy. And there’s even a chance he’ll win Waterbury.

This is obviously 98% spin. But even a broken top is right once every 100 years or so . . .


Joe and Mika on Campus / Election Day Liveblog

Tonight’s election discussion at the ’62 Center with Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski ’89 should be a fun one.  Keep an eye out for excerpts broadcast on their program tomorrow morning (and if possible, capture them and post video here!).  Kudos to SID Dick Quinn for helping make this happen!  Anyone who attends, please share any particularly interesting exchanges.

Also, use this thread to post results and comment on the election prospects of Ephs Chris Murphy ’96 (running for reelection to Congress, and recently received the largest local paper’s endorsement, but faces a very competitive race in a formerly reliably-red district), Walker Stapleton ’96 (running for Colorado State Treasurer, like Murphy, his race is a toss-up), Martha Coakley ’75 (running for reelection as Massachusetts Attorney General, and should have less trouble than she had in the Senate race), and Doug Hoffer ’85 (running for Vermont State Auditor), as well as any other Ephs running for office.


Murphy ’96 Losing?

Is this report trustworthy?

Republican challenger Sam Caligiuri has opened a lead outside the margin of error and appears poised to defeat incumbent Congressman Chris Murphy. A four day tracking poll of 911 likely voters in the Fifth Congressional District shows Caligiuri inching past the 50% threshold. He now leads 51.5-43.8 with with just 4.7% undecided. The poll was conducted October 28-31 by the Merriman River Group and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.

“With 24 hours to go, it appears that Congressman Murphy needs a resurgent Democratic turnout rivaling 2008 in order to hold his seat,” said poll director Matthew Fitch. “Murphy has run a strong campaign, but tough national headwinds and a faltering top of the ticket in his district have put his seat in jeopardy. Most troubling for Murphy is that Caligiuri has gradually improved his standing each night. The tea party continues to be a factor beyond their relative size. While only 14% of voters identify themselves as tea party supporters, those who do are supporting Caligiuri by a staggering 88-9 margin. The President’s approval rating in the Fifth of 43% positive and 54% negative may be the best predictor of the final result.’

I had assumed that Murphy ’96 was safe. Just how big is the Republican wave? According to the very smart Nate Silver, if Murphy loses, then the Republicans would be on track to win at least 76 seats.


Jail Time

Via reader David H.T. Kane ’58, this New York Times editorial:

The American Action Network, another conservative group that does not disclose its donors, is targeting Representative Chris Murphy [’96], a Connecticut Democrat, in his race against Sam Caligiuri, a Republican.

The group is running an ad claiming that the health reform law, which Mr. Murphy supported and Mr. Caligiuri wants to repeal, requires jail time for people who do not buy health insurance. The law does no such thing. At least one Connecticut television station has stopped running the ad.

The sound of liberal fear is a pleasant one to the Eph brigade of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Here is the ad:

As noted previously, conservative Ephs are looking at nothing but upside in this election. Either Murphy wins (Nate Silver has him at 72%, down from 84% last month) and we keep an Eph in Congress or Murphy loses, swept away but the worst Democratic losses in 50+ years.

Question for our readers: Should Connecticut TV stations refuse to air that ad?


Murphy in Trouble?

Is Eph Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 in trouble? Probably not. Nate Silver gives him an 84% chance of winning. But some Tea Partiers still hold out hope.

So all Democrats are unsurprisingly, at this point anyway, favored to win. Do these numbers mean CT-04 and CT-05 are a certainty? No, of course not. There are still about 52 days to the elections remaining and the models are based on if they were held today. As we near the actual election date they will have more, or even some, predictive value but that is not what they’re for, as some people erroneously assume.

What these numbers suggest is that both Caliguiri [Murphy’s opponent] and Debicella are within striking distance but will need to convince more independents and perhaps some Democrats in order to win. Assumed higher Republican turnout levels than in 2006 or 2008 are already built-in and getting them this close in the model. The question now is how to get an even larger share of unaffiliated voters.

For me, this is a win-win situation. Either Murphy wins (and I am happy because I want to see lots of Ephs in Congress) or Murphy loses (and I am happy because that would suggest a Republican victory of epic proportions, which is one of the reasons that I voted for Obama in the first place). Nothing but upside!

Ever thought about being a reporter or writer? Then you ought to join EphBlog and spend the next 6 weeks writing intensively about Murphy’s election race. Cover the story. Provide analysis. Become the more trusted source for news on this race. EphBlog will provide you with an extensive audience (and the Google page rank that comes with it).


Murphy for Senate?

Chris Murphy ’96, Democratic congressman from Connecticut, is one of the Ephs most likely to be President someday. The natural next step in his political career is as Senator or Governor. All his many fans at EphBlog were disappointed when it appeared he had no chance (and, therefore, no reason to run) for the open Senate seat because Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had a lock on the Democratic nomination. But, good news! Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam.

If Nate Silver says that Blumenthal must go, then Chris has a duty to listen. Run, Chris, run!

By the way, interested in becoming a political reporter someday? Best advice is to practice, practice, practice. Why not join EphBlog and become the world expert on Chris Murphy and other Eph politicians? We have a ready (and argumentative!) audience. Join us!


Eph Politics Round-up

  • In May, once [and future?] Congressman Ed Case ’75 is hoping to recapture a seat in the House and, in the process, avoid contributing to another special election disaster (from a Democratic perspective).  He and another Democrat are threatening to split the vote and allow a GOP’er to capture a heavily Democratic district.  Although Case is far more well-known than either of his opponents, he burned a LOT of local bridges with his decision to wage an ultimately unsuccessful primary battle against long-term Senator Daniel Akaka.  Even still, Case is leading in the polls.
  • Chris Murphy ’96 is in the opposite situation: a Democrat in a district that has long leaned Republican.  As such, he faces an uphill battle in defending his vote in favor of the health care bill.  If anyone can do it, however, it is the  always articulate, personable, and down-to-earth Murphy.  If you ever wanted to see action shots of an Eph Congressman, click on that link for an oddly voluminous slide show of Murphy in mid-sentence.
  • Meanwhile, Murphy’s classmate Walker Stapleton, who hails from an impressive political lineage on both sides of his family, is diving into politics with his run for Colorado GOP State Treasurer.
  • Op-Ed from Senator Mark Udall ’72 concerning renewable energy. 

Another Eph Senator…?

Reacting to the news that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will be retiring, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza suggests that Dodd’s retirement may clear the way to the U.S. Senate for Rep. Chris Murphy ’96 (D-CT) in 2012:

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is widely expected to step into the void filled by Dodd and, at least at first blush, should drastically increase Democrats’ chances of holding the seat.

Blumenthal, who has served as state Attorney General since 1990, is the most popular politician in the state and has long coveted a Senate seat; he had already signaled that he would run for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012. (A sidenote: Assuming Blumenthal gets in to the race, Rep. Chris Murphy could be the long-term beneficiary as he is widely regarded as a rising star and would be at the top of the list of Democratic hopefuls to challenge Lieberman in 2012.)


Eph Politics Round-up

Lots of Ephs continue to make news in the world of politics:

  • In her bid for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, Martha Coakley ’75 seems to be pulling away from the field, as reflected by the hoards of Massachusetts politicians (none of whom are likely to back an unlikely winner) endorsing her.
  • Recent polls show that Mike McGinn ’82’s run for Seattle Mayor is likely to go down to the wire.
  • Nice feature on the current Eph Senator, Mark Udall ’72.
  • Brian Werner ’01, IT consultant and member of the “Church of Celebritology” — really, is running for Telluride Town Council.
  • Steve Kelley ’75 is one of many in a crowded Minnesota Governor primary field.  Check here for Kelley’s website, including a link to his Facebook page.
  • Chris Murphy ’96, one of the “best fighters in Congress for health reform,” seems to be playing a prominent role in the House efforts to reach consensus on health care.  It’s a good sign, by the way, when even prospective opponents are applauding your constituent service.
  • In local political news, North Adams Mayor (and dead ringer for Mayor Quimby) Barrett is fighting for his political life against an MCLA professor.  This article discusses the race and notes one of Barrett’s Williams connections.
  • Finally, in old-school political “news,” who knew that an Eph, George William Hunter, Jr., class of 1896, wrote the book at the center of the Scopes trial?  Wild stuff.

Chris Murphy ’96 goes to the grocery store

And this is what happens (Murphy shows up around 9 minutes in to engage with the crowd):

Below the fold: a Williams namecheck, Murphy responds to the protesters, and some other Ephs weigh in with advice for both the left and the right. Read more


Future Governor / Senator Chris Murphy

Check out this great profile on Chris Murphy ’96 in today’s New York Times.

Sounds like the GOP wants nothing to do with taking on Murphy …


Open Election Thread

Feel compelled to howl your political opinions out into the intervoid? This is the thread for you! The Eph-related campaigns to keep an eye on include Chris Murphy ’96 for Congress in Connecticut and Mark Udall ’72 for Senate in Colorado. Are there any others?

Also, who are the Ephs most likely to be named to powerful positions in an Obama administration? Perhaps Obama will remember his high school classmate Bennett Yort ’83.

When Bennett A. Yort graduated from Hawaii’s Punahou School in 1979, he says, he had little inkling the quiet, skinny classmate friends called Barry could one day make history.

“Barry was just one of the boys,” Mr. Yort, a financial planner at Merrill Lynch of Augusta, said about Barack Obama.. “A very regular guy.”

Earlier this week, sitting in his living room and thumbing through his 1979 yearbook, Mr. Yort recalled 30 years ago when the two were schoolmates.

Mr. Yort, 47, said he couldn’t describe his and Mr. Obama’s friendship as close, but they did share classes and were “cordial.”

I am not sure that “cordial” will get Yort a spot in the Executive Office Building.


Times Endorses Murphy ’96

The New York Times endorses Democrat Chris Murphy ’96 for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional district. (Thanks to David Kane ’58 for the link.)

Chris Murphy, a Democrat, faces his first run for re-election. His opponent, David Cappiello, is a Republican state senator with a reputation for independence. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Murphy backed the credit card bill of rights and legislation to help homeowners refinance and thus keep their homes. We endorse Chris Murphy.

AFAIK, the only other Eph running for Congress is Mark Udall ’72, Democratic candidate for senator in Colorado. Are there any others? What about other major offices? The Williams Public Affairs office relies on EphBlog to create/maintain this list. Please help us help them.


Simon v. Skelos

Most interesting race featuring an Eph this election cycle? Not Chris Murphy’s re-election bid in CT-05; his seat should be safe in a year when Democrats look set to control every single House seat from New England. Instead, I would keep an eye on the race for New York State’s 9th Senate District, where Roy Simon ’71, a professor at Hofstra University law school, is taking on the current Republican Majority Leader in the State Senate, Dean Skelos. Though state legislative races get hardly any media attention, this one could have important consequences.

Why this race could matter: Currently, in New York, the Republicans hold a single-seat majority in the State Senate. Republicans have controlled the State Senate for 70 years, and it is now their last remaining statewide power base; it is also the only remaining obstacle to New York granting full civil rights to gay couples. Gov. Paterson has already done everything within his power, and the Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed a bill, but the Republican State Senate still stands in the way. In addition to what would be his systematic importance in flipping control of the Senate, Simon appears to be a property-tax-cutting, pro-public transport, pro-environment politician with a record of integrity and impressive professional achievements.

You can read more about Simon or donate to his campaign here.


Finance Q&A

Will Slack ’11 has questions about the bailout. Below, I provide answers.
Read more


Eph Pundit: Bush Bailout Speech

President Bush is speaking on the bailout. Your comments welcome! I am too lazy to watch, but isn’t this bearish for the passage of the plan? (Intrade has the odds at 75%.) It is one thing for Democrats to support a (relatively) non-partisan plan proposed by respected figures like Bernanke and Paulson. But how many Democrats want to vote for something championed by Bush, especially when their Republican opponents are likely to run (effective?) campaign commercials against them if they vote Yes? If, say, Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 votes for the bailout, you can be sure that his opponent will accuse him (fairly?) of spending taxpayer money to bailout Wall Street fat cats.


Fear and smear: Chris Murphy ’96 update

The Great Orange Satan reports on how this year’s race for Connecticut’s 5th District is shaping up:

The Fifth is Connecticut’s least Democratic district (D+3.7). Republican Nancy Johnson represented the area for 24 years until 2006, when she was defeated by Democrat Chris Murphy.

Murphy, 34, has had a remarkable record of political success, particularly for such a young guy. Fresh out of college at 22, he managed the campaign of Democrat Charlotte Koskoff, who ran against Johnson in 1996 and came within one point of unseating her. After graduating from law school, Murphy then defeated a 14-year incumbent to win a seat in the State House, then captured a Republican-held seat in the State Senate before defeating Johnson quite badly in 2006, winning by 12 points after a series of nasty attacks by the Johnson campaign. Since his election, Murphy has proven to be a popular Congressman and an excellent fundraiser, currently sitting on a $1.5 million war chest.

The Republicans hope to take this seat back with State Senator David Cappiello, who has been forced to run away from his unpopular president in this Dem-leaning district. Needless to say, that hasn’t gone over especially well with his based [sic] (though he and Bush appear to be getting on fine, as Bush held a fundraiser for Cappiello at Henry Kissinger’s house a few weeks ago).

It appears that the line of attack will be to paint Murphy as a DC insider who is soft on terrorism-indeed, it appears that that is already what they’re doing. As DemFromCT notes, however, it’s unlikely to work:

This is a winning strategery for McCain and Republicans… why? It’s not 2002 any more. The inept Republican fear campaign played badly for Nancy Johnson in 2006 and Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Why would it work better now?

Alas, it’s going to take a Democratic win in November to purge the system of the idea that Republican fear and smear still work. Chalk that up to yet another reason to vote Democratic.

Hear, hear.

The Republicans are dreaming big about CT-05, but I don’t think this is the year they’re going to stop Chris Murphy’s meteoric rise.

Race tracker wiki: CT-02 CT-04 CT-05


Eph Pork

Doesn’t look like Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 will be winning any PorkBusters awards.

The federal government late Wednesday authorized a national transportation funding bill that restores $53 million in additional highway funds to Connecticut that Gov. M. Jodi Rell feared were lost.

Rell asked Connecticut’s delegation in Washington last month to immediately approve a promised increase in transportation funding that Congress failed to approve last fall.

When Rell asked the delegation for help, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, asking them to vote on the money.

Dodd explained that the states can’t make long-term investments and plans for road and rail improvements without federal help, which has to keep coming year after year.

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th Dist., said the state will receive the missing $53 million. “Connecticut is getting its share,” he said.

Connecticut is one of the richest states in the country. Glad to see that Chris Murphy is bringing more federal dollars into a state that has more multi-millionaire hedge fund impresarios than any other. Wouldn’t want those poor boys to have to pay for their own roads! That wouldn’t be very, uh, progressive . . .


Ephs in the Times

Two Ephs were pictured in the New York Times yesterday. Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 (CT-D) in an article on Medicare.

House Democrats celebrating passage of the bill Friday. Representatives
Nick Lampson and Christopher S. Murphy are pictured on the left. Steven
Kagen and Charlie Wilson share a laugh, right.

And Susan Schwab ’76 was pictured along with an article on world trade talks. Unfortunately, the picture does not seem to be available online.

In the old days, I would refer to Murphy and Schwab as an EphHunk and EphBabe, respectively. Do readers miss this sort of light-hearted frivolality?

Trivia: Although pictured on the same day, Murphy and Schwab are in different photos. When was the last time two Ephs appeared in the same photo?

Answer: Vicky Fang ’98 and Austin Chang ’99.


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