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Rallying Around Murphy

Rallying Around Murphy


Progressive LGBT advocates locked in perpetual finger-pointing over the ailing equality agenda disagree on almost everything right now -- except for the exigency of saving one of the community's strongest allies in Congress, Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who led the charge on passing "don't ask, don't tell" repeal in the House.

A new video, expected to be released Thursday and produced by Dan Manatt, underscores the two-term congressman's tough reelection bid with narration from queer bloggers, grassroots activists, and organizational leaders, who are usually all over the map on how to best achieve equality.

"I don't know a lot of politicians who have kept their promises," says Robin McGehee of the direct action group GetEqual, which has protested such prominent Dems as House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

"Me neither. But Patrick's one of them," adds's John Aravosis, who has chastised entities including the White House and the Human Rights Campaign.

Enter HRC's Joe Solmonese: "That's why we're joining together to get Patrick's back."

"Contribute today to support Patrick's reelection," adds Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign.

The former Army paratrooper and Iraq war veteran has been beating back an aggressive challenge from Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, a former congressman who Murphy edged out of office in 2006. The Log Cabin Republicans have endorsed Fitzpatrick, who has taken the position that Congress should not vote on "don't ask, don't tell" before the Pentagon's study is released in December.

The mood in Pennsylvania -- which gave Obama 54% of its vote in 2008 -- is sour after the stimulus package has failed to nudge unemployment down. The state's jobless rate hovers around 9.2%, on par with the rest of the country. Just one month ago, polls showed Murphy down by 14 points.

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Though Murphy's campaign had about $1.6 million cash on hand at the end of September compared to Fitzpatrick's $834,000, the outlook for his reelection took an especially grim turn when news broke Monday that the Democratic National Campaign Committee was pulling money from the Keystone State and redirecting it in order to stem the bleeding in districts thought to be more winnable. The DCCC had planned on running political ads in the state for the final two weeks before the November 2 vote, but would now only do so for the final week, starting October 26.

But Murphy found new life this week when a newly released poll put him three points ahead of Fitzpatrick, 46% to 43%, practically a draw given the poll's 4.9-point margin of error. The candidate's good news was followed by a Tuesday endorsement from The Philadelphia Inquirer, which called Murphy the "best choice."

"Murphy also has shown political courage, leading the effort to repeal the Pentagon's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, which discriminates against gays in the military," the paper's editorial board wrote.

When Murphy was recently asked whether he regretted taking on the fight to repeal DADT, he responded, "Absolutely not."

"I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution as an Army officer and as a congressman," he told The Huffington Post. "I take that oath to heart, and I'm going to fight for the values that are in our Constitution. I'm going to fight to make sure that our military has the best personnel policy that it can, and that means repealing the outdated and the dangerous 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

Overall, the congressman's support for repealing the antigay policy has not been a centerpiece of the campaign, other than some charges by his opponent that he should have been devoting all of his time to job creation.

Interestingly though, the recent polling from The Hill shows Murphy is attracting more of the crossover vote (13%) in his relatively moderate district than his opponent (8%).

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