Kerry native's bid for U.S. Congress seat

Tralee, County Kerry native, Brianne Murphy, is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing a district cenetered in Syracuse, New York.

The 30-year-old filed paperwork recently as a Democrat and is looking to unseat freshman Republican congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle.

"I'm the only Democrat who has filed and I'm focusing on raising money and talking to voters and listening to the people of the New York 25th to hear what they want done by their advocate in Washington," said Murphy in a telephone interview from her home, that being the house she grew up in after moving to the U.S. from Ireland when she was eight years old.

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The Murphy home is located in the Tipperary Hill section of Syracuse. Tipperary Hill's stop lights famously have the green on top and red on the bottom in deference to the many Irish who made their homes there after helping to build the Erie Canal in the early 1800s.

An attorney and small business owner, Murphy says she is alarmed by what she describes as the far right leanings of Buerkle.

"The most important focus for me will be the economy, and bringing jobs and investment back to Syracuse," said Murphy. She said would like to see high-speed rail and infrastructure improvements emphasized, "rather than concentrating on social agenda issues."

Murphy's father, a farmer, still lives in Kerry along with a younger sister. Murphy says her Irishness offers an instant "likeability factor" and helps her to connect with the many of Irish heritage in the district.

Murphy has been involved in politics as long as she can remember, knocking on doors with her mother to get out the vote. Her family were all long time supporters of retired Republican congressman Jim Walsh, despite their Democratic affiliation. Walsh's wife, Dee Dee, taught the young Murphy.

"Brianne is a hard, hard worker," recalled Congressman Walsh in an interview from his office here in Washington where he is now a lobbyist.

Walsh, the former chair of the Friends of Ireland, and co-chair of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, says Murphy comes from very humble beginnings and has accomplished far more than what might have been expected of her.

"Kids from Fowler (Fowler High School from where Murphy graduated) don't tend to graduate high school, never mind go to college, and then she put herself through law school, it's quite remarkable," Walsh said.

While still in high school, Murphy persuaded Walsh to give her an internship in his district office in Syracuse. Having dinner one night in Georgetown several years ago, Walsh says he looked up to find Brianne Murphy taking his order as his waitress while she was attending George Washington University Law School.

Only problem, he notes, is that she's "on the wrong side of the aisle," so there will not be an endorsement from Walsh for Murphy.

"I like Ann Marie (Buerkle), and I support her," he said.

Walsh helped to fundraise for the 2010 race for Buerkle, and plans to do so again.

Endorsements apart, Murphy says that Jim Walsh has been an outstanding mentor and inspired her to want to serve in public office.

"It's very hard to get into politics at this level; it's possible but it's really hard," said Walsh.

Murphy, in that case, already has a track record exceeding all expectations.