xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Catonsville man packs his bags for Republican National Convention

Don Murphy of Catonsville is a delegate for the Republican National Convention.
Don Murphy of Catonsville is a delegate for the Republican National Convention. (Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The political eyes of the nation will be turned to Cleveland in little more than a week for the Republican National Convention.

Don Murphy won't be viewing it from his Catonsville couch. The 55-year-old will be a part of it.

Advertisement

For Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit working to lift the ban on marijuana on the federal level, it's a place for him to talk politics and public policy with some of the party's biggest figures.

"It's the Super Bowl of politics," he said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Murphy is one of Maryland's 11 at-large delegates, according to the Maryland Republican Party. He was elected during the state party convention May 14. There are two ways for people to be selected as delegates: They can be voted in by the public during the state party primary — when three delegates and three alternates are chosen — or they can be elected during the state convention.

There are no Democratic Party delegates from Catonsville or Arbutus areas, the 21228 or 21227 ZIP codes, according to Jazzmen Knoderer, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party.

Growing up in Anne Arundel County, Murphy got into politics when a high school civics teacher encouraged students to work for candidates during the 1976 election. He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for District 12 from 1995 to 2003.

The 2016 convention is his third. He attended in 2000 and 2008. His wife, Gloria, was a delegate in 2004 and an alternate in 2008 and 2012. Their daughter, Kendall, was an alternate in 2008.

Advertisement

The Republican Party's front-running presidential candidate, Donald Trump, wasn't Murphy's first or even second choice among the party's candidates — they were Rand Paul and John Kasich.

Paul impressed him because of his beliefs in smaller government and drug policy.

"He would have shaken up Washington in a way most of the others wouldn't," Murphy said.

When Paul dropped out of the race, Murphy shifted to Kasich. He was impressed with Kasich's work as chairman of the House Budget Committee and believed as a two-term governor of a swing state, he had a chance to win.

"He had the resume that I thought was a perfect match for the White House," he said. "I can't say any of the others really did."

Murphy does, however, see redeeming qualities in Trump, calling him the answer to "total gridlock in Washington."

"He wasn't my first choice. He wasn't my second choice," he said. "But I certainly understand it and I believe he could end up being an amazing president."

Since he was selected during the convention, he is bound to Trump for the first two votes at the convention. If more than two votes are needed, he is free to vote for someone else but said he is likely to stick with Trump.

"Honestly, if I'm elected in a state by people who are Trump supporters, it would be wrong for me to go rogue," he said. "I believe it would be wrong."

Despite being a Paul guy, or a Kasich guy, at heart, there's more for Murphy to going to the convention than to help declare who the party is going to select as its presidential candidate, he said. It's also an opportunity to talk about party policies.

Despite his day job pushing for change in marijuana laws — his organization champions the idea of marijuana legalization being a state, and not federal, issue — he doesn't plan to use the convention for that purpose.

One policy Murphy wants to see is states that hold closed primaries, in which registered voters can only select candidates from their party, move to the front of the line of the primary schedule.

"I want to see the earlier states be closed primary states, so that the nominees are picked by actual registered Republicans, not unaffiliated voters or Democrats," he said.

Murphy can't predict who will win the presidential election, but he believes whoever does will do so in a landslide. He believes Hillary Clinton, the Democrat's leading candidate, and Trump are so polarizing that something will happen. He believes there's more excitement for Trump, from both vocal and quieter parties. He plans on voting for Trump in November.

"It's not broccoli versus cauliflower but it's something like that," he said. "For a lot of people, it's two bad choices and you've got to pick one."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement