Chris Murphy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, defeating Republican Linda McMahon. He was re-elected last year, facing only token opposition and, as such, is not due to face Connecticut voters again until 2024, which is several political lifetimes from now.
That’s one way of saying there’s no danger of Murphy facing political repercussions over a recent mini-scandal involving his place of residence. But it shouldn’t matter in any event.
The issue came to light after last month’s local elections, where Murphy attempted to vote via absentee ballot in Old Lyme. His vote was not counted because his name had been moved to the inactive voter list.
Murphy doesn’t live in Old Lyme. He and his wife sold their home in Cheshire last year and live primarily with their two young sons in Washington, D.C. According to a spokesman, Murphy registered to vote in Old Lyme, where his parents own a home. The move to Washington, Murphy has said, was prompted by a desire to spend as much time as possible with his family.
All of this could sound vaguely scandalous to people who don’t like the senator, such as, for example, state Republicans. Shouldn’t Connecticut’s senator live in Connecticut? He represents us, doesn’t he?
In reality, it’s a nonissue, and wouldn’t be worth commenting on if certain parties weren’t determined to pretend otherwise. Murphy has said he is looking to buy a home in the Hartford area, and in the meantime his residency is not, according to the U.S. Constitution, a legal problem; nor should it be a political one.
Congressional representatives face this issue constantly. It’s a full-time job to serve, but they can’t lose touch with their constituents. Connecticut has it easy, really — imagine being a senator from Alaska and making the 11-hour flight back and forth on a regular basis.
There’s also a whiff of elitism in the question. We want our representatives to be regular people, but also seem to wonder why they can’t afford multiple homes. Washington, D.C., and Connecticut each have some of the priciest real estate in the nation, and Murphy, who does not come from wealth, is consistently at the bottom of the list of senators in net worth.
In the meantime, he continues to do his job. Earlier this week he joined gun violence prevention advocates and survivors at the U.S. Supreme Court as justices were hearing oral arguments in a major Second Amendment case. He recently returned from a trip abroad with news of a potentially major scandal, saying the Trump administration had been mysteriously withholding promised military aid from Lebanon, similar to what happened in Ukraine.
And this summer, he once again completed a walk across Connecticut, a regular trek he makes, he says, to stay close to the people who put him in office. (Another reason to be glad he doesn’t represent Alaska).
In truth, it’s his growing national profile that has opponents eager to take him down a few pegs. It won’t work. He’ll find another home here and continue to do the job he was elected to do.