Murphy works in city's interest

ATLANTA --- As the "dean" of the local legislative delegation because he has more seniority than anyone else from Augusta, Rep. Quincy Murphy calls the meetings and tries to organize his hometown colleagues.


As a Democrat in a chamber run by the majority Republicans, Mr. Murphy's power is strongest in local matters rather than those statewide.

Lobbyist Scott MacGregor, who represents the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce and The National Science Center, considers Mr. Murphy someone he can work with.

"He's interested in hearing the issues," Mr. MacGregor said. "I've found him to be eager to work in Augusta's interest."

Mr. Murphy also tries to respond to the 60 or so e-mails and phone messages he gets each day from constituents.

"I feel good about the fact that people feel comfortable communicating with me," he said, even if it stretches his typical day from 7:45 meetings to receptions that last until 8 p.m. and loads of legislation to study before bed.

As a freshman, he tried to read every bill, but soon learned to trust some of them to colleagues with expertise in certain areas.

"Some things pop up so fast you just have to go with your gut," he said.

He has particular interests in the issues of the committees he sits on, Higher Education, Transportation and Insurance.

But he feels the local issues are the biggest concerns of his constituents.

Elected the chairman of the local delegation in 2005 when Rep. Henry Howard died, Mr. Murphy has tried to look out for issues surrounding the Medical College of Georgia and The National Science Center in addition to last year's bill changing the timing for Augusta Commission elections and this year's discussion of the Coliseum Authority.

Even with so many newly elected members, overseeing the delegation isn't easy, either, says Rep. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta.

"As a delegation, we are all making efforts to learn, grow and work together," he said. "... This has been a work in progress."

The long pauses that delegation members offer when a reporter asks their view of Mr. Murphy's chairmanship might speak louder than their actual comments about the clashes.

Sen. Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, acknowledges one reason there are often differences, at least from his and Sen. J.B. Powell's standpoint.

"As a delegation, it's hard for us to surrender," Mr. Tarver said. "We think that (when) our districts' support a position on a particular issue, it's hard to yield to the House members of the delegation because our districts are just so much larger."

As the lone Republican in the delegation, Rep. Barbara Sims recognizes that Mr. Murphy has a challenge getting the others to agree to her views.

"Let's just put it like this: when we meet, everyone has their own opinion, and I think he does the best he can do," she said.

Mr. Murphy borrows a motto for his approach to the delegation chairmanship from an unlikely source, someone he is not normally a fan of, Ronald Reagan. He quotes the president as saying greater accomplishments are possible when no one is concerned about taking the credit.

"My ego, my thrill comes from being able to serve my people and having them appreciate what I'm trying to do," Mr. Murphy said. "That's where I get my biggest joy."