Scott Murphy has started the tall task of asking voters to pick him over James Tedisco, a legislator who has spent his share of time in the limelight over the past 20 years.
“There are a lot of voters who don’t know me yet, and I think I have to get out and do the hard work of meeting them,” said Murphy, the Democratic Party’s pick for the 20th Congressional District seat. That seat opened up when Gov. David Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat after Clinton was named secretary of state. Gillibrand is supporting Murphy in the race.
The Glens Falls man plans fundraising events, mailings and TV commercials to reach voters. Getting the country out of the recession and creating jobs are Murphy’s main messages, and he says he can do it at the federal level because he has started small businesses as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist and made them successful.
“Small businesses are the engine that creates jobs in this country,” he said.
There may be no issue more important than the economy in this speedy race before the special election is held March 31.
“You hear the same things,” Murphy said of voters. “People are worried about losing their jobs. People are worried about losing their health care.”
As a venture capitalist for Advantage Capital Partners of Glens Falls, Murphy invests in small businesses and helps them develop plans to be successful, including hiring the right staff and finding new customers, he said.
“I think that there’s a real interest in somebody who’s actually solved the problems of how to create business and how to build jobs in this area,” he said.
His campaign aims to attack Tedisco as a “career politician.”
“We don’t need more of the same that we’ve got from Albany in Washington,” said Ryan Rudominer, Murphy spokesman.
Murphy, 38, is a Missouri native who graduated from Harvard University, lived in New York City and moved to Glens Falls three years ago with his wife, Jennifer Hogan.
Hogan, from Washington County, is one of 87 grandchildren. Many of her family members are Republican, and most live in the 20th District. “If I get all their votes, I’ve got a good start,” Murphy said, half joking. “I’m excited about having converted a lot of Republicans to vote for me.”
Well-known members of Hogan’s family include Kate Hogan, Warren County district attorney, and state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury.
Kate Hogan, a Republican and Jennifer Hogan’s cousin, declined comment on the race.
Little, who sought the GOP nomination for the 20th District seat herself, is backing Tedisco, said her spokesman, Dan MacEntee. Little is related to Jennifer Hogan by marriage, not blood, MacEntee said.
Hogan and Murphy met in New York City in 1996, where Murphy was building two small businesses.
He had worked on Wall Street for Banker’s Trust for two years in the early 1990s.
“She introduced me to upstate New York, and I fell in love with upstate New York,” Murphy said, recalling how on a visit to Washington County, the couple pulled in at 4 a.m. after a long drive and Hogan’s cousins taught Murphy how to milk cows.
The couple married in 2000 and lived in New York City for a few years before Murphy’s small office of Advantage Capital Partners moved to Glens Falls.
The couple have three children: Simone, 7, Lux, 5, and Duke, 3.
Murphy won’t disclose how much money his campaign coffers hold or how much money he has personally, although he said he will release personal financial disclosures soon.
“We’ve been doing very well on the fundraising front,” he said. “It’s been very, very exciting and rewarding that people are willing to support me as much as they have been.”
Although he and his wife made a loan to the campaign, he said he expects to raise most of the funds from donors.
politics and business
Murphy grew up in Columbia, Mo., where his father was a postal worker and his mother an elementary school teacher.
He worked as an aide to two Democratic Missouri governors, Mel Carnahan and Roger Wilson, and served as deputy chief of staff under Wilson.
As an entrepreneur, Murphy started Small World Sports, an online sports game, and then sold it to The Sporting News. Murphy also founded Small World Software, which was renamed iXL, and took it public.
He started working for Advantage Capital Partners in 2001.
Advantage Capital focuses on manufacturing, outsourced services and applied technology, according to its Web site. The Glens Falls office runs an $88 million venture capital fund.
In 2007, Advantage Capital partnered with other investors to put $9 million into Golden Goal in Fort Ann. The funding allowed the company to finish construction of the 200-acre soccer complex, which is designed for weeklong soccer and lacrosse tournaments for boys and girls ages 10-14.
Teams stay at Golden Goal’s Athletes Village, take part in matches and competitions and later eat together.
Murphy is also president of Upstate Venture Association of New York.
Murphy has served on the board of the Glens Falls Civic Center Foundation, which raises money for capital improvements at the civic center.
“He seems to be a very upright, straightforward, honest sort of guy,” said Paul Pontiff, a lawyer in Glens Falls who is president of the board.
Pontiff said Murphy has volunteered his Manhattan apartment to put up for auction at foundation fundraisers as a weekend getaway. The foundation usually secures tickets to a show or restaurant for the successful bidder.
“That he does on his own. That’s his own apartment,” Pontiff said.
John Franck, a member of the Saratoga Springs City Council and an accountant, will be the treasurer for the Murphy campaign.
“I’ll have a lot of assistants,” Franck said, adding that much of the work will be done in Washington, D.C.