For those who remember the children's game Where's Waldo I think a new game called Where's Murphy? might be a hit. Scott Murphy, incumbent Democrat Congressman from New York's 20th District, held lots of well announced town halls in 2009 only a few months after winning a special election. Now, in 2010, he seems to be pretty scarce.
Murphy can claim that is he around by holding last minute town halls with barely any notice. How can he help it if so few arrive? He held one in Halfmoon, NY, which according to my source, did not go well. I was informed he plans to hold one in Keene, NY at the extreme northern end of the district on August 31st. The press release went out on August 30th. That's a lot of time for people from the more populated areas of his district to make plans to get there. According to CityData.com, this town has a population of around 1,000.
On August 30th, another press release announced Murphy's plans to hold a town hall meeting in Pleasant Valley, NY in Dutchess County, on September 1st. According to CityData.com Pleasant Valley had a population of almost 2,000 as of July 2007.
I want to be clear that I support people in rural areas getting a visit from their Congressman. They deserve the opportunity to question him as much as anyone else. But it's a bit much to suddenly go to these areas after a summer of hardly being available with decent notice in more populated areas.
In looking through the press releases, I learned Murphy had a town hall in the populated area of Saratoga Springs on August 27th (two days' notice), but it was only open to residents of a specific nursing home. Hmm, could the August 23rd event at another nursing home have anything to do with that decision?
Murphy has a page listing all the places he has visited in the 20th district. His staff still gets to place a virtual push pin in Saratoga Springs for the visit restricted to residents of a specific nursing home.
By contrast, Scott Murphy's challenger, Colonel Chris Gibson, gives plenty of notice for his "Chris is in YOUR corner" town hall events. If Murphy truly stands behind his record of voting almost 90% with Nancy Pelosi, he should be able to host the same level of town hall events he did last year. He should be able to explain his votes to people from all walks of life. He should have been doing this throughout August. Soon, Congress will be back in session and Murphy won't have to hold anymore town halls where people might question his voting record. He can just use his campaign war chest to run television ads asking for votes in November.