Murphy eyes run for Congress
October 3, 2019
Merced Mayor Mike Murphy is “seriously
considering” entering the 2020 race for the District
16 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We’ve had a lot of success
here in Merced and that success has been bipartisan, and
I think those same principals would go a long way in Washington,
D.C.,” Murphy told the Times. “I haven’t
reached a decision. I likely will, one way or the other,
in the next couple of weeks.”
If Murphy decides to do so, he would enter a race that
features longtime Democrat incumbent Jim Costa of Fresno,
who currently faces three challengers. Costa’s main
challenger is considered to be Esmeralda Soria, a Fresno
City Council member and a Democrat. Another Democrat challenger
is Kim Williams of Mariposa. And the lone Republican in
the race, so far, is Kevin Cookingham, a retired Clovis
Murphy, a registered Republican, told the Times he is considering
running as an Independent in the race. He pointed to statistics
that show 32 percent of the registration in District 16
— that includes the City of Fresno and parts of Fresno
County, along with Madera and Merced counties — is
listed as “something other than Republican or Democrat.”
He said of that group the largest is listed as “no
Said Murphy, “There are a lot of voters in the Congressional
district that would like to see Washington work better,
and have abandoned the Republican and Democratic parties.
They want solutions to our country’s problems.”
Murphy’s comments to the Times ends a few weeks of
speculations and rumors that resulted in news being reported
on local radio and TV that he had indeed entered the race.
Not so fast, said Murphy, who pointed out this week that
he is still talking with strategists and looking at recent
He did say he hired a professional pollster, and that:
“If I decide to run, I like my chances.”
The mayor added that like any campaign, it would take money
to get the word out. He said, “The vast majority of
my support would come from residents who live in the district.
There would be a large number of small contributions.”
Murphy served five years on the Merced City Council and
will be finishing up his second and final term as mayor
of the city toward the end of 2020. He is known for supporting
public safety, UC Merced investment in town, and the redevelopment
of downtown. His phrase “City on the Rise” —
successfully used at his annual State of the City address
— has become a popular slogan to symbolize growth
in the relatively new “university town.”
He was a graduate of Golden Valley High School a couple
years after the school opened, and went on to study law
at Georgetown University. In recent years, he helped open
the Murphy & Brawley law firm in downtown Merced.
Murphy said he has talked to Congressman Costa about his
“If I decide to run, it would be me putting forward
my message rather than an attack on him,” he said.
Costa, a 67-year-old Blue Dog Democrat, has beat out numerous
Republican challengers over the years, including Brian Whelan,
David Rogers, Johnny Tacherra and most recently Elizabeth
Costa, with a sizable campaign war chest, has accepted
money from PACs and corporations such as Chevron, Google,
Comcast, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, plus various agriculture
or labor-related groups. His long list of endorsements includes
Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris
and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as well as members
of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
A final list of candidates for the race is expected in
December. The Primary Election is set for March 3. The top
two vote-getters — regardless of party — will
move forward to the General Election in November 2020.
Stay tuned for more on this election race and others in
future editions of the Merced County Times.