U.S. Senator Chris Murphy looked like just a regular guy out for a walk as he strolled through downtown Milford Thursday afternoon as part of his cross-Connecticut walk to meet and talk to some of the state’s residents.
Four days into the journey, he said things are going well: He’s meeting many residents and gaining insight into local concerns. His legs, he acknowledged with a laugh, are starting to feel a little tired.
On day one, Monday, Murphy posted this on his Facebook page: “It’s the unofficial last week of summer in Connecticut and I decided to do something a little different — I’m going to try walking across the state. I started today in Voluntown (a little town near the Rhode Island border) and I’m heading west. I’m excited to hear from people across Connecticut, to stop into local businesses and get some great ideas to bring back to Washington. I’m a little unsure how far I’ll make it but we will see how this goes.”
Murphy has been walking most of the day since Monday and then ending his daily jaunt with a town meeting. Tonight’s is planned at a church on the east side of Bridgeport.
He was in downtown Milford at about 3 p.m. Thursday, after ducking for cover from pouring rain inside a wood shed on Pepe’s Farms Road.
“I ate my lunch in there,” he said.
Murphy, 43, describes his weeklong journey as a long, leisurely stroll. Along the way he stops to talk to people who are walking their dogs or just out for a stroll themselves, and he pops into businesses to talk to the people there.
“When you’re wearing a tee shirt and shorts, it creates an opening for open, honest conversation,” he said.
So far Murphy said he’s talked to small business owners who said they feel the government could be less antagonistic toward them.
“Everybody says they’re doing better but they could stand a little more love in terms of regulations,” Murphy said.
He said he’s gotten a better picture of the working poor: In West Haven he talked to a woman who works a minimum wage job full time but couldn’t afford her electric bill and her electricity was turned off.
In Milford, at SBC Brewery and Restaurant, Murphy stopped and chatted with Robert Granfield, a commercial clammer. Granfield talked to Murphy about fishing for a living, and he told the senator that some of the commercial fishing regulations ought to be lightened up.
Others, too, chatted with Murphy at SBC before he headed back onto Broad Street, going west toward Sterling House in Stratford, his next stop.
This is the first time the senator has undertaken this kind of walking campaign, and his staff said he’s accomplishing just what he set out to do. Some people call his office to talk about their concerns, but there are thousands of people he never talks to, but whom he represents. He wanted to talk to some of them.
Not only is he hearing from residents, he’s seeing sights he hadn’t seen this close up before.
“When you’re walking you get a sense for how beautiful the state is,” Murphy said. “The shoreline in Branford…I never walked it before. And I’d never walked into New Haven over the Route 1 bridge first thing in the morning.”
The New Haven skyline in the morning is worth seeing, he said.
Murphy has been posting photos from his walk on Facebook and Twitter, along with comments about the day.
On day three he wrote: “Walked 30 miles today and my legs are in revolt. Made it through Chester, Killingworth, Madison, Guilford, Branford and finally to East Haven.”
He’s getting plenty of feedback and suggestions, like this posting from a resident:
“I really think this is a cool thing you’re doing! I’ve noticed so often that I see things differently when I’m walking than when I’m driving. Also, please notice how much of CT needs more pedestrian-friendly walkways!”
After stopping at Sterling House in Stratford and then the east side of Bridgeport later Thursday, Murphy said he planned to stop for the night at his in-laws’ house in Fairfield. He said he’s been “couching it,” staying with friends or family at night and then starting his walk again in the morning.
At the end of Thursday, he expected to have logged more than 90 miles.
He plans to keep walking until Saturday, when he gets to Greenwich.
This week, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is walking Connecticut, taking to the streets and dirt roads to listen to and get feedback from Connecticut residents. Murphy began his walk on Monday, Aug. 29 in Voluntown.
After holding a town hall last night in East Haven, Murphy will walk through the following towns today: New Haven, West Haven, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport.
Murphy plans to make it to the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church, 548 Central Avenue in Bridgeport at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Sept. 1, where he will hold a public town hall meeting.
All members of the public are encouraged to attend.