ALBANY—It's been a busy week for Scott Murphy.
On Saturday, he was a venture capitalist from Glens Falls with a low political profile, considered a longshot to be named his party's standard bearer in the race against Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in Congress.
On Monday, people started calling. Murphy went to Washington, where he met face-to-face with Gillibrand and representatives of the DCCC. (They have sent staffers to the district since we ran this.) Before he could issue his first press release – about the need to cap executive compensation at company's receiving taxpayer bailout funding – he came under attack for tax problems related to a company he founded. I asked him if the rapid mud-slinging – in response to which Democrats have called into question $21,000 Tedisco billed for use of a state car in seven years – surprised him.
"Honestly, I expected we would be talking about the issues that the people of the 20th Congressional District care about," Murphy said. "I thought we would have a spirited debate about my experience creating jobs and his experience in government, and how those are different and how we would approach problems in different ways, and I would love to have that debate. The Republicans appear to be wanting to talk about false and misleading attacks about tax bills that don't relate to me. Maybe that's because they don't want to talk about my experience creating jobs, and saving jobs. Because, this is what I do, and that's not what he does."
Murphy talked about his experience as a businessman, and how it informed what he would like to see in a federal stimulus package being debated now.
I asked Murphy how he would have voted on the bill that passed the House of Representatives last week. He wouldn't say.
He also declined to say how he would have voted on the TARP bills passed last autumn – which then-Representative Gillibrand voted against – but noted that "what played out was absolutely unacceptable."
Murphy did say he supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which is backed by labor. I was going to ask Murphy about when he thinks the special election should take place and what his stances were on gun rights and same-sex marriage, but didn't get a chance to before he said he had to head to another appointment. (We had been speaking by phone for about 14 minutes.)
Earlier, I had asked Murphy what challenges he faced against Tedisco, who is widely known in the district and has already held some campaign events.
"You need people who understand how businesses actually create jobs," he said. "I think as a candidate that we've got to get the message out. I think that people, when I talk to them, the response is overwhelmingly favorable. But obviously I've got to spend the next few weeks, several weeks, getting that message out to people, because I don't know all the people in this district. I haven't been a career politician and haven't been in the press talking about whatever for the last 25 years, so people are going to need a little bit of time to get to know me and understand my experience and my background. While I wasn't on TV, I was actually out building businesses and creating jobs, and I think once that message gets out, the response, so far at least, has been incredibly positive. People seem to be very excited."