Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has announced that he will be using the millions raised for his 2018 re-election campaign to “build on the astounding grassroots energy that has manifested since the election” to fight for progressive values and electoral engagement against the specter of the oppressive Republican Party. Murphy is calling the effort Fight Back Connecticut.
Fight Back Connecticut will connect professionals and progressive activists together “to organize volunteer networks, turn people out for protests and events at a moment’s notice, make our voices heard in Hartford and Congress, and to conduct the largest voter ID, persuasion, and get out the vote operation Connecticut has ever seen.”
It’s odd for a senator to use campaign money for something other than a campaign. But Murphy doesn’t seem to be worried about his 2018 prospects.
Murphy was first elected to office in 1998. At age 25, he ran against a 14-year incumbent Republican for a Connecticut House seat. With the support of the six largest unions in the state, Murphy defeated the incumbent with 55% of the vote. He won re-election with 68% of the vote.
He went on to win a State Senate seat at age 29 with 53% of the vote. He won re-election with 60% of the vote.
Murphy continued his winning streak in 2006 by beating a 12-term incumbent Republican by 14 points in a United States House of Representatives race. In 2012, he was elected to the Senate with 55% of the vote despite the fact that his Republican opponent spent five times more than him.
He made a name for himself across the country in 2016 following the Pulse mass shooting, the deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crime in United States history, by launching a filibuster to force Republican leadership to vote on gun reform. The filibuster lasted almost 15 hours, making it the 9th longest in United States history at the time, recently topped by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley’s filibuster against Trump Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch.
The freshman senator’s filibuster was particularly important to Connecticut voters given that Murphy took office less than a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the deadliest school shooting in American history. This and his other efforts in the Senate have made him popular in his state, with a majority consistently approving of his performance.
To no one’s surprise, not a single Republican has formally declared that they are running against Murphy in 2018. So it actually makes sense that Murphy feels confident enough about re-election to use his campaign funds for another cause. Murphy is passionate about civic engagement, and Fight Back shows it. He wants to use the energy of the Trump Resistance, of which he is one of the main leaders in the Senate, to further mobilize activists and organizers.
“People all over Connecticut are so worried about what the Trump agenda will mean for their family and the people they care about,” Murphy said. “This angst has caused thousands of people to organize themselves into new grassroots organizations or informal social media groups. Every single day, I get asked, ‘What more can I do to fight back?’ I’m launching Fight Back Connecticut because I’ve never seen such spontaneous, passionate grassroots activism and organizing before. I want to do my part to help grow this organic movement.”
But Fight Back CT aims to do more than simply oppose Trump. In 2016, though Hillary Clinton won the state by over 14 points, Connecticut experienced a minor but significant red wave. Democrats lost three Senate seats, creating an 18-18 party tie, the first since 1893. They also lost seven House seats, bringing Republicans four seats away from a majority. Hopefully, Murphy’s effort will be able to mobilize progressives in Connecticut to get involved in local races that often go ignored.
“We’re going to help give this new generation of inspiring activists the tools and training they need to organize and contact voters. By working together, we can fight back against backward policies with the biggest grassroots army Connecticut’s ever seen.”