Just when you thought you had seen it all in New York special elections, Ian Murphy has emerged as a likely, though long-shot, candidate in the race to replace Rep. Chris Lee (R).
Don’t know who Murphy is? You know his work.
The editor of the satirical news website Buffalo Beast, Murphy was behind the prank phone call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) late last month that made national headlines. Murphy pretended to be billionaire conservative activist David Koch.
Here’s a taste of the transcript of the phone call, which Murphy taped and much of the nation later heard: “Well, I tell you what, Scott, once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time,” said Murphy, pretending to be Koch. “All right, that would be outstanding,” Walker replied.
Murphy is likely to capture the the Green Party ballot line, state Green Party co-chairman Peter LaVenia told Roll Call on Wednesday.
“The local out in western New York has talked to a number of different candidates, and they forwarded the recommendation,” LaVenia said. Murphy “was the only one that they came to the conclusion represents Green values … and is willing to change his registration to Green and run as a Green.”
LaVenia said the state party is expected to finalize its endorsement by the end of the week. The special election is scheduled for May 24.
LaVenia said he believes that Murphy, previously registered with the Working Families Party, intends to run a serious campaign. But Republican nominee Jane Corwin at this point is favored, having avoided mistakes of previous New York special election candidates and secured the support of the Conservative Party.
LaVenia said the Greens like Walker because he sided with union workers in the Wisconsin fight. “It’s going to be something that we’ll try to focus him on running a serious campaign,” he said. “I think he’ll do it. But it may be difficult for the media to say that he’s anything other than a prankster. We can’t help that.”
Murphy’s entrance is no laughing matter for Democrats, however.
Their best hope in capturing the 26th district seat in the heavily Republican region is a divided GOP electorate. Corwin also faces two Republicans who have launched third-party bids. Millionaire former Democrat Jack Davis is one of them and will likely appear on the ballot under the tea party line.
But Murphy’s place on the ballot could ensure a partially divided electorate on the left as well. Democrats are in the process of interviewing candidates and could settle on a nominee by the end of the week. The frontrunner is largely considered to be Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul.
LaVenia said the Green Party doesn’t view a Murphy candidacy as “siphoning votes” from Democrats.
This contest was unusual before it even began.
Lee resigned last month just hours after an Internet gossip site published a shirtless photo of the married Congressman apparently seeking romantic encounters on Craigslist.
“We’re going to run as hard a campaign as we can,” LaVenia continued. “It’s a special election. I think interesting things can happen in special elections.”
For more from our At the Races politics blog, click here.