Christopher Shays, and Murphy bested the former Democratic secretary of the
state, Susan Bysiewicz.
In the weeks following the primary, a new narrative emerged, one about how well the Republican was doing.
McMahon, after reintroducing herself all winter and spring, unveiled a series of ads critical of Murphy's congressional committee attendance record. According to research compiled by McMahon's campaign that Murphy hasn't disputed, he missed 74 percent of all his committee meetings since his January 2007 swearing-in.
A string of unflattering disclosures then surfaced about Murphy's personal financial history: late rent, mortgage and vehicle tax payments from 1998 through 2007.
"I would say that from the day the primary was over until really the end of September and beginning of October, Murphy ran a terrible race," Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report in Washington, said last week.
"He was not prepared for the attacks she waged against him," Duffy said. "The (attendance) stuff he never saw coming, and the stuff that they should have seen coming -- the missed rent and mortgage payments -- they didn't have an answer to, and they let the story drag on."
Chris Healy, former state Republican Party chairman, said Murphy underestimated the challenges of running as a statewide candidate.
"It took him a while to get out of the blocks and realize that he was not Dick Blumenthal, that he did not have a statewide brand," Healy said.
Instead, it was McMahon who seized the opportunity to introduce Murphy to voters outside his 5th Congressional District.
"She, with her resources, had a wonderful political opportunity to basically define for the voters on a statewide basis who Chris Murphy was," said Gary Rose, a politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. "What they saw, they obviously didn't like."
With his campaign struggling and supporters growing nervous, Murphy attended the Democratic National Convention in early September.
The Democratic establishment mobilized. Murphy's campaign experienced an infusion of new staffers, campaign ads and financial contributions. Independent expenditures for anti-McMahon attack ads has come from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as Majority PAC, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Campaign finance reports through Oct. 17 show Murphy has received $9.3 million in contributions. Of that, $1.4 million is from political action committees.
Altogether, outside groups have spent about $8.5 million so far in support of Murphy, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
According to several Republicans, the cost of the rushed assistance for Murphy was that he had to hand over the keys.
"He had the campaign taken away from him," Healy said. "The campaign is now being run by Washington people, which makes him completely a creature of Washington."
Murphy campaign spokesman, Eli Zupnick, said a "beefing up" did occur, but dismissed the notion that Murphy relinquished control.
"It was a campaign that got additional support and staff, as any campaign would do in the last two months," said Zupnick, who was part of the September wave of reinforcements.
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