Rep. Murphy: Always About the Mission
WASHINGTON – Elected to Congress in 2016 after a career spent mostly in the private sector, Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., was bound to see things from a decidedly nonpartisan perspective when she got to the nation’s Capitol a few weeks later.
“I had never run for public office or held one before, and in all my work experience, I had never once sat down at a conference table and said, ‘Hey, are you a Democrat?’ ‘Are you a Republican?'” Murphy told a rapt audience at “Legislating from the Middle,” a forum presented by Center Forward and hosted by The Well News at the Newseum’s Knight Center on Thursday.
“It was always about the mission,” she said. “It was always about what we were trying to achieve in that moment, and then figuring out a way to hash out the differences and find the best path forward. In many ways I bring that perspective to my job here in Washington.”
That philosophy made her a natural for the Center Forward sponsored event, as the organization is dedicated to bringing members of Congress and other stakeholders together to find common ground and pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing the American people.
Murphy, a co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition in the House, shared the stage on Thursday with a trio of like-minded colleagues: fellow Democratic Representative Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., chairman of the New Democrat Coalition; and two Republicans, Representatives Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and John Katko, R-N.Y., of the Tuesday Group and Problem Solvers.
By the time she defeated 12-term Republican John Mica in a contest to represent Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Murphy had been a business executive, professor at a local liberal arts college, and a national security specialist at the Defense Department.
Today, the congresswoman, whose family fled Communist-controlled Vietnam in 1979, serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and its subcommittees on trade and worker and family support.
While Murphy told the forum audience that being a centrist comes naturally to her, she said her district, which includes much of downtown and northern Orlando, as well as all of Winter Park, Maitland, Sanford and Altamonte Springs, almost demands she legislate that way.
“I’m in one of seven districts in the country that has zero partisan tilt,” she explained. “That means [in terms of constituents] I have one third who are Democrats, one third Republicans, and one third, Independent.
“That means on any given day, I’m [annoying] two-thirds of my district,” she joked. “But that’s part of what being a moderate is … when you’re trying to find that middle ground, you’re likely to take hits from the left and the right.”
But the woman who serves as chair of the Blue Dog Coalition and the Future Forum and serves as a loyal member of the New Democrat Coalition, Problem Solvers Caucus, Climate Solutions Caucus, LGBT Equality Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, says she’s just fine with that.
“My goal is moving this country forward, and as long as we’re doing that, I’m comfortable with whatever criticism I might get along the way,” she said. “And I’m really glad to be serving in Congress with others who are looking for constructive ways to advance policy and serve this country. “
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