A lot is said about 'rock stars' within the Democratic Party. Ever since Bill Clinton became president in 1993, there's been an aura of him being one of those rock stars in our party. The same goes for his wife, Hillary, even though she has many detractors within the party itself - after all, she has raised $33 million for a re-election campaign that will be a cakewalk. After his rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has become another one of those charismatic personalities within our party. Heck, even Connecticut Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont, a political unknown 6 months ago, may have attained rock star status.
On the eve of the netroots fundraising push, though, I thought it'd be a good time to talk about a congressional candidate in the Philadelphia suburbs who has a very bright future ahead of him. His name is Patrick Murphy, and below the fold, I'll tell you more about him - and why we should be donating our time and money to his campaign.
I believe we could have all Guard and Reserve troops home in 90 days--or no later than this summer--if we radically speed up the planned redeployment of U.S. Troops from Europe and Asia. The Bush Administration is rightly planning to pull up to 60,000 troops out of Europe and another 30,000 out of Asian posts, recognizing that the vast majority of these troops are no longer necessary from a military perspective.
After we have brought the guard and reserve home, U.S. troops should begin a strategic drawdown of forces, bringing another 50,000 troops home by the end of 2006. We do this by withdrawing from the cities and redeploying the remaining troops to protect the borders with Syria and Iran. I agree with Rep. Murtha that we will also need to leave a strike force in the region, either in Iraq or Kuwait, made up of elite forces from the Marine Corps and perhaps members of my own division, the Army's 82nd Airborne, who will be ready to deal with emergency situations.
If you look at the rest of Patrick's issue page, you will see that he holds progressive positions on the important issues to us - fiscal responsibility, working towards energy independence, and properly funding stem cell research. His list of endorsements is impressive - many unions are endorsing him, and he has the backing of Democratic Party establishment figures such as Senator John Kerry (D-MA), former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and his future colleague from Pennsylvania, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).
In addition, Patrick has long been a part of the Bucks County community through his community service organization, MURPHYcorps. I was lucky enough to have the time to participate in one of their events last November in Morristown, where we cleaned up the leaves in the local YMCA's parking lot and the nearby playground (the picture above is from that event; Patrick is on the left, the Penn College Democrats' political outreach director is in the foreground, and yours truly is on the right), an event that I wrote about afterwards. He has been involved in community service in the community since 1995, when he helped sandbag Wilkes-Barre during a bad flood season. Recently, the Corps has also been helping provide local flood relief in the area after particularly heavy periods of rain earlier this summer. He is truly a local boy who's done much good. A recent profile of Patrick shows how much he has gained from his past experiences in the Pennsylvanian community:
Murphy, however, isn't just an average out-of-towner who spent some time in the Wyoming Valley and went on to bigger things. He says he's forever indebted to Wilkes-Barre and King's College and remains vested in the area's success.
"It's where I really found myself," Murphy said recently during a telephone conversation while campaigning. "I would not be running for U.S. Congress right now if I didn't go to King's."
From the classroom to the courtroom to the battlefields in Iraq and now to the political scene, Patrick Murphy always reflects how his formative years spent in Wilkes-Barre set him up for success. A three-year captain of the school's ice hockey team, Patrick Murphy was among the ROTC cadets who were up at 5 a.m. training while other students were still sleeping. He fondly recalls long chats about politics with the Rev. Thomas O'Hara, now the college's president. An altar boy as a youngster, he often went to noon Mass at the King's Chapel, sometimes with Michael and Patrick O'Connor's mother.
When a conversation begins about Patrick Murphy at King's, it always comes back to his performance in introducing Clinton and how proud officials are to call him a graduate, said Frank Pasquini, the school's vice president for institutional advancement.
Patrick is running against freshman GOP representative Mike Fitzpatrick, a mouthpiece for the Bush administration who is running away from his record as quickly as possible, claiming to be an independent representative for the district. In addition to the questionable sources of his funding, Fitzpatrick is not the independent voice that he claims to be - just check out his voting record over his current term. On the bill that would be expected to get the most GOP votes - funding for embryonic stem cell research - Fitzpatrick voted against it not just once, but twice. Progressive Punch ranks Fitzpatrick at 207 in the House, putting him near the top of the GOP. But his highest score on the issues is the environment and corporate subsidies (at or just above 50), with a score of zero on both family planning and housing issues and low scores across the rest of the board. Fitzpatrick is a supporter of staying the course in Iraq, no matter how much he tries to dissociate himself from his fellow Republicans in the White House and in Congress.
While any Democrat running in PA-08 would be better than Mike Fitzpatrick, I think Patrick Murphy has the potential to be something special - not just now, but in the future. He has the charisma of the 'rock star' Democrats and is able to charm just about any audience. Even more importantly, he is able to connect with younger voters, something that is dearly lacking in many politicians today. As a member of the Penn College Democrats, I've had the chance to meet Patrick 3 times to date. He attended one of our weekly meetings in the spring, as well as speaking at our fundraiser in April, and I have never seen such enthusiasm for a candidate in our group that was shown for Patrick. Several of our members, including our chapter's president, have worked on his campaign over the summer, and I expect several more (including myself) to volunteer regularly during the stretch run this fall. In addition to being a progressive voice, he has been a great friend of the netroots, particularly the local Philadelphia blogs. Staunch supporters of Patrick's include Atrios, Booman, and Chris Bowers of MyDD, and the campaign itself has an excellent blog in its own right. Many of us, though, see Patrick as someone who could go far in politics - maybe even to the top spot at some time down the road. His ability to connect with people of all different ages, his charisma, and his willingness to stand up for what he believes in are attributes that will serve him well down the road. When I made my $10.01 donation to the campaign this morning, it was for an immediate cause - winning the PA-08 race in 2006. However, I also think of it as an investment in a politician who could be a great voice for the progressive cause in the future to come.
An internal poll released in mid-July showed Patrick behind by 6 points - but when a biographical sketch was offered, Patrick led by 19 points, by a 55-36 margin. This race is going to be one of the closest in the country, along with the Lois Murphy in PA-06 and Fighting Dem Joe Sestak in PA-07. I'd urge you to contribute to them as well; both of them are equally good candidates who will make the Democratic Party and their constituents proud of their service. For me, though, Patrick Murphy is one of those candidates you meet and can immediately tell that he's an extraordinary candidate - and he is someone whose name we will remember long after this year's midterm elections. If there's only one candidate you can contribute to, Patrick Murphy is an excellent - and in my humble opinion, the most deserving - candidate to give our money to.