HUDSON—Not that he was counting, mind you, but Scott Murphy said he’d been a congressman for “four weeks and five days” as of Monday, June 1. That’s the day he officially opened his new district office at 621 Warren Street, on the corner of South Seventh Street.
Fresh off a special election victory in the race to fill the seat previously held by now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Mr. Murphy, 39, a Glens Falls Democrat, made his way slowly through a small crowd of about 65 well-wishers to the storefront that will serve as his office serving Columbia, Greene and Dutchess counties. Those are three of the 10 counties that all or in part comprise the ungainly 20th District.
Alluding to the series of recounts that delayed the announcement of a winner in the March 31 contest against former Assembly GOP Minority Leader James Tedisco, Mr. Murphy said he has been hard at work on many issues in the brief time he’s been in Washington. He pointed with pride to his first policy speech on the House floor, in which called for an amendment that will aid returning veterans who want to start their own businesses.
Mr. Murphy said the amendment, which was adopted by the full House, will help veterans find funding, develop business plans and solve the problems that start-up ventures face. Reminding his audience that small businesses employ the majority of American workers, he returned to a major theme of his campaign: that as a businessman he had long experience helping companies create new jobs, something he believes his amendment proves he can do.
Overall Mr. Murphy said he has found his new job as congressman—his first elective office—“exciting,” although he said he is still looking for a place to live in Washington. He then ticked off a number of measures that have passed in the House or are in the works, including the new law intended to prevent credit card companies from suddenly changing the interest rate charged to consumers, a bill to help homeowners with their mortgages and the consideration of more regulation of the financial industry to prevent future meltdowns like the one that has thrown the economy into a deep recession.
Asked by a woman in the audience when the Hudson office would be open for business, the congressman paused for no more than a beat before proclaiming with a large smile: “Right now!”
The hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. business days. The office will be headed by Amanda Boomhower, whose official title is constituent services representative. An office staff member said the phone number is 828-3109 but that the line was not yet working. She expected it to be operational shortly.
Asked what’s ahead, Mr. Murphy said the “big issues” facing Congress and the president are the energy bill, which includes proposals to address global warming, healthcare reform and reregulation of the financial industry. He said that in other years, tackling any one of those items might have been the major preoccupation of Congress, but this year he expects action on all three measures to take place “this summer.”
He said he has no plans right now to travel overseas.
His remarks steered clear of partisan positions, but Mr. Murphy will have to run for reelection in a year and a half, and he did take time to thank Columbia County voters for providing him with a “wide margin” in the special election, a factor that helped him win office by about 400 votes. There are now more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county.
Mr. Murphy gave no indication he was in a hurry to enter his new storefront office and leave the bright, warm day. He stood in the doorway facing the street until he had responded to all the people who had policy questions and comments.
One man thanked him for attending the graduation of his son the previous week at West Point.
“I was moved to see all those young men and women,” said Mr. Murphy. He said that the cadets of the Class of 2009 had entered the U.S. Military Academy knowing the nation was at war and graduated while the country is still engaged in conflict overseas.
A short time later he made his way inside toward the large, wooden desk set theatrically at the rear of the room. Well-wishers and people with specific issues stopped him along the way, as the crew from Albany TV Channel 6 set up for an interview. Outside, the size of the crowd dwindled, but a couple of dozen people lingered, echoing the reluctance of their new congressman to head indoors on a perfect spring day.