Rep. Scott Murphy campaigns at Skidmore: Congressman to students 'You can have an impact'

Posted by Katie Vallas

On Oct. 19 in front of Case Center approximately 30 members of the college community gathered to listen to Rep. Scott Murphy. Many of the students, dedicated volunteers on his congressional campaign, held up handmade signs to attract the attention of passing classmates.

While Murphy spoke on issues ranging from environmental policies to his fiscal philosophies, his overall message to the students was of his belief in their influence in the local Nov. 2 election. "This is definitely a race where you can have an impact," he said. "I think that won't be true of every other race that comes up, but this is going to be one that's going to be very close."

He reminded the gathered crowd of his narrow margin of victory when he was first elected. "I was elected by 726 votes – the smallest margin of any race in the country," Murphy said. "This is going to be another very close race. We know that."

This year's campaign shows Murphy joined by some of the college's current students and alumni as volunteers, with Michael Cass-Antony '10, Ethan Flum '13 and Emily Owens '11 helping to organize the Oct. 19 event. But Murphy said he believes more help could make the difference in deciding the Nov. 2 results.

"One shift of canvassing from a group the size we have here, and 700 people are impacted, which is the entire outcome of the election," he said. "If any of you are interested in learning more about political campaigns, we'd love to have you involved."

He said his work in the last year included supporting initiatives relevant to students, such health care reform. "One of the things that will most directly impact you as you're going through college and getting out is that you're able to stay on your parents' insurance plan until you're 26-years-old," he said.

Students applauded, as they did when he touched on student loan reform, which cut subsidies paid to banks for offering student loans for a projected 10-year savings of $80 billion. "We took that money and reinvested it in making loans more available, making more Pell grants available, making investments in our community college system and in early childhood education and in also reducing the deficit," Murphy said.

He said such acts' balance of new policies paired with regard for economic security represented his priorities as a congressman. "It's about knowing what you want to do and going about it in a responsible way," Murphy said. "I'm a ‘Blue Dog Democrat,' which means I'm concerned about fiscal responsibility."

This stance stems from his history in business, where Murphy said he became used to managing budgets. "I come from a company where, when we ran out of money, we didn't have anywhere to go. We couldn't pay ourselves. We couldn't pay our bills," he said.

He said he has an eye on long-term economic growth in the district, which would tie in with the energy independence bill now stalled out in the Senate. "New York would come out well ahead, because we've already cleaned up our power," he said. "We're really leaders in next-generation energy technologies."

Murphy also spoke more casually with students on their concerns about future environmental policies, with topics ranging from hydrofracking to cap-and-trade systems. He said dialogues like those on Oct. 19 play a key role in how he communicates with his district.

"I promised when I was running for office that I would go to every one of the towns that I represent, all 137 of them, every year, and do some kind of public meeting," Murphy said.

In a historically contentious district, Murphy said he does not expect universal approval. "If people looked at the something like 1,300 votes I took this year, I'm pretty sure there's no one who would agree with all of them. And if they did, I don't think they were thinking very hard," he said. "But hopefully, most people agree with most of them. That's the way I try to run things."

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