Heard on the Hill

Murphy Walks Across Connecticut to Packed Town Halls

Health care, not Charlottesville, was the dominant topic, senator says

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy greets a crowd at the finish line in Danbury, Ct. (Courtesy Murphy's Twitter page)

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy completed his 110-mile August recess walk across his home state Thursday. It’s the same summer trek the Democratic lawmaker did last year though some of the topics he discussed this time around with constituents along the way were different. 

“When I was talking to apolitical people, which represent the majority of Connecticut, they were talking about kitchen-table issues,” Murphy said.

He started his walk Sunday, just one day after white supremacists led a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly when they clashed with counter-protesters.

“People talked to me about Charlottesville but it was far from a dominant issue,” Murphy said. “People talked to me much more about health care and education and taxes.”

The senator kicked off his walk from the town of Danielson. Health care was the most frequent topic raised, he said.

“People desperately wanted to talk about their fears that their health care would be taken from them by bills in Congress,” Murphy said.

Day Two began in Willimantic. Day Three began in a rainy Portland. Each day he tried to walk about 25 miles.

He ended every day of the trip with a town hall in the evening and had a booming number of attendees. Last year, he saw about 25 to 75 people at his town halls. This year: between 200 and 500.

Day Four began in Waterbury after the senator tweeted a photograph of his feet bandaged in tape at 6 a.m.

Day Five started in Newtown — the same town that endured the tragic mass shooting in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Murphy held an event there that he said meant a lot to him.

“I do a lot of town halls and that’s the first town hall we’ve done in Newtown,” he said. “We’ve purposely been careful about doing big political events in Newtown. That’s a community that was overwhelmed after the shooting and really wanted the time off.”

“It was pretty amazing to walk into a hall filled with 500 to 600 people, many of them with kids who were killed or kids who were in that school when that shooting happened,” he said.

Last summer, Murphy ventured out on his walk two months after he’d held a near 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor pressing for votes on gun safety measures. 

“Guns came up much less this year and almost everybody [who] brought it up this year was supportive of increasing background checks and increasing gun safety reforms,” he said. “In the wake of the filibuster, there were definitely some gun owners that were itching to have a conversation with me.”

The senator ended his trek in Danbury and celebrated with a hotdog from JK’s Original Texas Hot Weiners.

While Murphy walked, his children had been spending time with their grandparents. He said he was looking forward to getting home to family.

“I think I’m going to put my feet up and take a night off,” he said. “I’m going to go watch a movie with my kids.”

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