Campaigning after Sandy

Asked whether he will be adjusting his strategy during this final full week of the 2012 campaign because of Hurricane Sandy, Chris Murphy said he is focused on the safety of his constituents.

“I’m going to make sure the people of the 5th (District) are safe,” Murphy, a United States representative running for Senate, told me following Sunday’s rally in Waterbury with former President Bill Clinton. “I’m not thinking about the political implications of this storm.”

And yet those implications were pretty unavoidable during the event.

Governor Dannel Malloy, one of several speakers who warmed up the crowd at the Palace Theater for Murphy and Clinton, first began with a warning: “In the coming days Connecticut is going to be challenged by weather conditions the like of which we have never experienced in any of our lifetimes, or at least the potential.”

Then U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who faced and defeated Murphy’s opponent, Republican Linda McMahon, in 2010, told the audience, “I can tell you from experience these next ten days will make the difference.” He urged Murphy supporters to talk about the campaign with friends and neighbors and to volunteer their time to reach out to voters by phone or by pounding the pavement and knocking on doors.

“Please use every waking hour that you can, please use these precious moments, to seize the opportunity, to seize this day, so that Chris Murphy becomes our next U.S. Senator,” Blumenthal said.

So, Connecticut’s going to get hammered, and yet, somehow, campaigns – Democrat, Republican, etc. etc. – have to keep their eye on the goal of winning next week.

Rank-and-file Democrats I spoke with at Sunday’s event offered mixed thoughts on how the campaigns should proceed.

Ex-Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who challenged Murphy for the Senate nomination and now backs his candidacy, said candidates for all offices are trying to figure out what to do.

“Maybe candidates will be out door-knocking, passing out water and canned food,” Bysiewicz suggested.

Todd Murphy, a staffer for House Democrats in the Connecticut legislature, said there is a concern that candidates will irritate voters who are understandably focused on storm damage.

“This is the ‘get out the vote’ week. I don’t know how you can do that when people will be focused on possible emergency situations at home,” he said. “If you call someone’s land line and they pick up during an outage … I think it would be hard to sell a political call.”

Matt O’Connor, a political director for organized labor in Connecticut, said about 200 of his members volunteered their Saturday for get-out-the-vote operations in Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, Hartford, New Haven and New Britain.

“We’re not going to be doing that in the middle of storm or post-storm clean up,” O’Connor acknowledged.

Clinton during Sunday’s speech essentially told the Democratic crowd that, regardless of Sandy, people will be voting next week.

“Were facing a violent storm. It’s nothing compared to the storm we’ll face if you don’t make the right decision in this election,” Clinton said.

McMahon’s campaign, which held its own rally Sunday, said staff are keeping an eye on Sandy and the situation is obviously fluid at this point.

Her mostly self-funded campaign has been dominating the airwaves with advertising, so obviously it’s not helpful for large portions of the state to be without electricity.

McMahon did send the following email to supporters:


Dear ———,

I usually write to you about my time on the campaign trail, but today I want to make sure you’re ready for Hurricane Sandy. The reports are very serious, and parts of Connecticut are already being told they should evacuate.

Governor Malloy has set up a website – – that will be updated with information as the storm watch continues. You can also sign up for text message news alerts online here. The National Weather Service has been updating its website with warnings by county — Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland and Windham counties are all on alert.

If the power does go out, please use text messages instead of cell phone calls to check in on family and friends – it uses less battery power and frees up space on cell towers for emergency responders. If you need to find out where a shelter nearby is, call 211 or click here. Some other important phone numbers are CL&P: 1-800-286-2000; Northeast Utilities: 1-800-286-5000; and United Illuminating: 1-800-722-5584.

If you haven’t already stocked up, please make sure you have supplies on hand in case of a power outage:

  • One gallon of water per person per day — enough for at least three days
  • Non-perishable foods and a can opener, again enough for three days
  • A battery-operated radio to listen for weather updates
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit – if someone in your family takes medication, make sure you have enough on hand for a few days

Also, you should have a wrench and pliers so you can turn your utilities off, if necessary. When you’re out, fill up your gas tank and take some cash out of the bank. If the power goes out, banks and credit card companies could go offline so you won’t have access to your accounts.

If you can, check on your neighbors, especially your elderly neighbors, during the storm. Stay safe out there.



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Paid for by Linda McMahon for Senate 2012

Brian Lockhart