POLITICS

Connecticut's Chris Murphy sworn in to US Senate

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Chris Murphy took the oath of office on Thursday to become Connecticut's newest U.S. senator, replacing the retiring Joe Lieberman.

In Washington, Murphy was escorted down the center aisle of the Senate by fellow Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, to take the oath from Vice President Joe Biden. He later signed the Senate's Oath Book, which contains the names of all senators.

Murphy told The Associated Press in a phone interview before the ceremony that he was "a bundle of nerves" but was thrilled to walk with Blumenthal.

"Not only was he a big part of helping me get to this day, but I'm part of a generation of public servants in Connecticut who looked up to the example that Blumenthal set," Murphy said. "It's a real honor for me to be able to get sworn in today to represent the people of the state, but also do it next to somebody I've looked up to for a long time, Dick Blumenthal."

The 39-year-old Murphy will be the youngest member of the Senate. He and his wife, Cathy, have two young sons, Owen, 4, and Rider, 1.

During an afternoon mock swearing-in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber, where picture-taking is allowed, Biden joked with Owen, calling him "handsome" and asking whether he was 14 years old. When Owen answered that he was four, Biden said, "I knew there was a four in there somewhere."

Murphy's youngest son, Rider, then held up his left hand while his father held up his right, to take the oath for a second time.

"You're going to save that picture," a smiling Biden said afterward.

Murphy, the former 5th District congressman, defeated Republican Linda McMahon in November. McMahon had run against Blumenthal two years ago and lost that race as well. The former wrestling executive spent a total of about $100 million of her own money on the two races combined.

Murphy was expected to sit at Lieberman's desk in the Senate for the opening day of the session. But his desk will be moved elsewhere in the Senate based on his seniority. Murphy said he expects he will be ranked 91st or 92nd out of 100 senators. His time served in the U.S. House of Representatives will be counted toward his ranking in the Senate.

Murphy said his ultimate ranking could determine whether he receives a possible subcommittee chairmanship on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is also a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, a bicameral panel that advises members of Congress and the president on economic issues.

Also on Thursday, Connecticut's newest House member, Democrat Elizabeth Esty was sworn in as the newest 5th Congressional District representative. Connecticut's other incumbent House members, U.S. Reps. John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney and Jim Himes, also took their oaths of office.

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