On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) laid out some key priorities of his newly-launched campaign for the Senate seat held by retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman — with filibuster reform being one of his top concerns.
Murphy said that during his travels throughout his House district, “I’ve heard a real frustration with the U.S. Senate, and how it too often stands as an unjustifiable barrier to positive change.” He said that his campaign would discuss issues such as the economy, but also reforming the Senate so it is no longer, in Murphy’s words, “an old boys’ club” that stops progress on key issues.
“Part of the reason that reform can’t occur in the Senate is because of the way they do business,” Murphy laster said, during the Q&A. “The filibuster is in dire need of reform. Whether or not it needs to go away, we need to reform the way the filibuster is used, so it is not used in the order of everyday policy, but is only used in exceptional circumstances.”
I then asked Murphy a follow-up: If elected, would he still push for filibuster reform if the next Senate has a Republican majority?
“Absolutely,” Murphy responded. “The Founding Fathers set up serious barriers to change in the status quo - legislation has to pass through two legislative bodies, and be signed by the executive. I do not think they envisioned legislation needing 60 votes even to pass smaller, more pedestrian bills. I will pursue both filibuster reform and an end to secret holds, whether or not Democrats or Republicans control the United States Senate.”
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Goodbye, Joe: Lieberman Announces He’ll Retire In 2012]
Murphy also said that he had decided to run in a process over the last few months. (His Web video announcing the campaign was taped this past weekend, he said at one point, and was just posted online today.) In response to a question from a local reporter, who said that he had heard Murphy was planning to announce next week, Murphy said Lieberman’s retirement affected the timing.
“Well today is the first day that this is an open seat. and I saw no reason to waste any time,” said Murphy. “With it becoming an open seat it seemed like a good time to begin my candidacy. I don’t really believe in the exercise of political theater. If i’m going to do something I feel like I should be clear about my intensions.”
He later said that he would likely have run either way, regardless of whether Lieberman had been in the race or not.
Also in the race on the Democratic side is former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, who launched her campaign on Tuesday. Lieberman announced his retirement the next day.