Democrats are raging over the virtual invisibility of congressional contender Mark Murphy as his race against Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) comes down to the wire.
Murphy — who announced his candidacy back in January — failed to turn out for a debate that the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board on Oct. 3, missed another potential showdown in Dyker Heights on Oct. 9, and was running so late to a candidates forum on Oct.13 that moderator Linda Sarsour told him over not to bother coming. He was also mysteriously absent from another debate at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center on Oct. 17, say political watchdogs who claim that Murphy has posted no campaign signs in Bay Ridge.
“We had 80 people here from the district, ready to listen, ready to ask questions. It was a wonderful opportunity — and it’s an opportunity you don’t get normally in communities outside of Bay Ridge,” said Peter Killen, a member of the Brooklyn Democrats for Change who moderated the Oct. 17 forum that Murphy failed to attend. Since Murphy was a no show, Grimm didn’t show up either, Killen said.
“Shame on them,” he said.
Murphy’s perennial absences are so apparent that die-hard Democrats are thinking twice about voting for him, local civic leaders claim.
“If 80-percent of success is just showing up, Murphy has failed miserably,” said one Brooklyn Democratic leader who wished to remain anonymous. Democrats are so frustrated with Murphy that they’re thinking of voting for Green Party candidate Hank Bardel, the civic leader said. “Even people who loyally vote straight down the Democratic line want to meet their candidate — they want to see him, shake his hand, hear him speak, ask him questions.”
Voter frustration over Murphy is even visible on the candidate’s Facebook page.
“Where are the lawn signs, bumper stickers, newspaper ads? Is Mark really running for this office?” reads a post from Morry Friedman on Oct. 10
Others echoed Friedman’s bewilderment.
“I’m going around Bay Ridge getting Muslims to vote for Mark Murphy but we don’t see any signs of Murphy,” said Nauman Shah.
Yet Murphy’s camp claims that the Hollywood actor and real estate agent-turned aide to Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio has made repeated campaign stops in Brooklyn.
“Mark is unable to attend every community forum, but he has been a visible and vocal presence in Brooklyn throughout the campaign,” said spokesman Dan Morris, who said Murphy swung by the Third Ave Festival, attended meetings with members of the Marlboro Houses Tenants Association and the Arab Muslim-American Federation, talked to commuters at the 86th Street R train station, and did some door-to-door canvassing in Bay Ridge.
But longtime New York political expert Hank Sheinkopf claims Murphy’s sparse appearances shows his disinterest in holding elected office.
“It really tells you that he’s half-hearted about this,” Sheinkopf said. “He should’ve probably saved the money he spent on his campaign and bought a house or something.”