Mark Murphy declared he would run against Republican Congressman Michael Grimm last night, shooting regular barbs at his rival throughout his speech. Before a crowd of Staten Island Democrats, he made his intentions about as clear as they could get: “I am Mark Murphy, and I am running for Congress.”
While outlining a promise to create jobs, Mr. Murphy, a former aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, engaged Congressman Grimm directly. “My opponent might like to fire people, but let me tell you something,” he said, seizing upon one of Mr. Grimm’s statements that Democrats view as a gaffe. “I like to hire people, and I want to put America back to work now.”
Mr. Murphy also accused the Republican of lacking proactive initiatives. “I believe in finding ways to vote ‘yes’ – not just saying ‘no’ — in moving our country forward to build a better and brighter future for middle class in Staten Island and in Brooklyn,” he said in an early part of his speech.
“Just look at our current Congressman’s record,” Mr. Murphy later continued. “He said ‘no’ to extending payroll tax cuts for middle class workers. He said ‘no’ when there was a vote to protect Medicare. He said ‘no’ to extending unemployment benefits those who lose their jobs in this recession. His is the Congress of ‘no.’”
In a sign the race is drawing national attention, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently rated the race as “emerging” while the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a press release attacking Mr. Murphy moments before his announcement.
“In these troubled economic times, Mark Murphy has already made it clear that he is running for Congress to represent Obama’s job-destroying agenda – not to fight for local values,” an NRCC spokesman said. “New York families don’t want a partisan rubber-stamp like Murphy who will pursue the same big-government agenda that has already destroyed our economy.”
Republican efforts attempting to tie Mr. Murphy to the White House make strategic sense as President Obama fared poorly in this district in 2008, narrowly losing a district Al Gore won, despite performing significantly better nationally.
Answering questions after the event, however, Mr. Murphy dismissed the national Republicans’ criticism. “I’m not running for the Presidency of the United States, I’m running to be a Member of Congress,” he contended.
A number of other Democrats have considered entering the race, including former Congressman Mike McMahon who lost to Mr. Grimm in 2010; however Mr. Murphy is currently the only announced candidate and appears very likely to be the nominee.
Asked about other potential candidates who have vaguely indicated their interest, Mr. Murphy didn’t discourage them but made his own candidacy clear. “Look, I welcome the Democratic process, and that’s the great thing about it,” he responded. “But I’m the one who stepped up to the plate, and I said the time is now, and we need to begin this campaign against the current Congressman.”
Watch the campaign announcement below: