U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy rallied his fellow Democrats on Friday night, urging those attending the state convention to unite for this year’s election, which could prove challenging for the party.
Murphy, nominated by his party to seek a second term, will face Hartford business owner Matthew Corey, a little-known and less-well-funded Republican challenger. But he stressed the risks of Democrats losing key races in November.
He noted how the race for governor likely will be close, as well as the battle for control of the General Assembly. Democrats and Republicans currently have an equal number of seats in the Senate and Democrats hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
“In Connecticut, Republicans, they can taste control of the legislature and the governor’s office. They’ve never been closer to seizing control of the agenda,” the 44-year-old told delegates who gathered on the first day of the two-day convention at the Hartford Convention Center. “And just remember guys, this isn’t your father’s Republican Party anymore here in Connecticut. This is the party of Trump. This is the party of the tea party.”
Murphy was endorsed for a second six-year term on a resounding voice vote.
Delegates are scheduled to return Saturday to endorse candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general and comptroller. It appears likely that Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont will be endorsed as the party’s choice for governor, now that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not seeking a third term. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and retired Greenwich business executive Guy Smith are collecting roughly 15,500 signatures to appear on the Aug. 14 primary ballot.
Ganim also hopes to secure the necessary support of 15 percent of the convention delegates, but acknowledged he’s uncertain if that will happen.
Meanwhile, there are multiple candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer and attorney general.
Malloy on Friday night also urged the delegates to unify, stressing the importance of Democrats winning control of statewide offices and the General Assembly. He also urged them to send Murphy back to Washington, so he can “stand up to the president” and his policies, on everything from gun control to immigrant rights.
Murphy has become a rising star in the Democratic Party over the past six years, taking on a more national profile.
“I have tried to raise my voice at the national level, especially over the past two years, because I think that the voters of Connecticut and my constituents demand that their senators try to play a role in what is a national debate about the future of our democracy,” Murphy told reporters before the convention.
The tragedy of the mass shooting at a Texas high school on Friday hung over the convention’s first night. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal led a moment of silence in honor of the victims.
Murphy predicted that members of Congress with top ratings from the National Rifle Association will be voted out of office this year, as frustration continues to mount in the country.
“We’re building a political movement when it comes to changing the nation’s gun laws. Eventually, we’re going to be stronger than the gun lobby and there are signs that that moment may be upon us,” said Murphy, who has been pushing for stronger gun laws after 26 first-graders and educators were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, shortly before he became a U.S. senator. “It’s been five years since Sandy Hook and we haven’t passed a meaningful change in our gun laws at the federal level, but we will get there.”