Hanover teaching veteran declares presidential candidacy

  • Made by a student at Hanover High School, posters hang on the wall of Bill Murphy's classroom in Hanover, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Murphy of Lyme, N.H. a Hanover High School social-studies teacher is running for president of the United States. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High School social studies teacher Bill Murphy is running for president of the United States. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, he was in his classroom at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High School social-studies teacher Bill Murphy at his desk at the school on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Murphy is running for president of the United States. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2019 9:11:56 PM
Modified: 11/27/2019 9:12:40 PM

HANOVER — Less than two weeks into his campaign, Lyme resident Bill Murphy knows the way that many eligible New Hampshire primary voters are going to greet, at first blush, his news that he’s running for president of the United States.

“I always lead into it by saying, ‘I would appreciate your support, or spreading the word that I’m a candidate,’ ” the Hanover High School social studies teacher said this week. “And the first response is always a chuckle.”

Along with incumbent Donald Trump, the 81-year-old Murphy is one of 17 people who paid the $1,000 fee to add their names to the Republican ballot for New Hampshire’s 2020 primary. And neither chuckles nor more sober expressions of doubt are deterring the longtime educator from using his candidacy as a teachable moment in what he sees as a period of peril for the republic.

While acknowledging that his chances of winning the Feb. 11 primary, let alone the Oval Office, are akin to “a lightning strike” — Murphy is campaigning by word of mouth and not soliciting contributions of money — he sees a need to offer a contrast to a Trump presidency that he describes as “a terrible model for American youth.”

“Part of it is for my students here at school,” Murphy said. “My watchword is, ‘If you feel strongly enough about something, why not go for it?’ It’s not enough to sit. It’s not enough to think about something or other. You need to have some core values that you will stand up for and be identified with.”

Bill Hammond, a former Hanover High colleague of Murphy’s who described himself as an independent, said he’s considering picking up a Republican ballot in support.

Murphy is “a reasoned thinker,” said Hammond, whose time teaching a variety of subjects at Hanover High overlapped with half of Murphy’s 58 years.

“As long as I’ve known Bill, he’s always been coming up with ideas about how to make things better, whether it was in sports when he was a coach, or if it was in class, or if it was making the school work better,” Hammond said.

To make the country work better, Murphy said, “I’m not interested in making significant changes to the system. I just think it’s incumbent on Congress to pass the laws. I just want to provide a direction, to push Congress to do their work.”

In a campaign statement, Murphy said he would urge Congress to pass a “progressive, graduated income tax with no deductions” and free public education for post-secondary students, in return for which “the student owes the country one year of service for every two years of schooling beyond high school,” either in the military or organizations such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America.

The latter initiative is part of Murphy’s big-picture goal “to encourage young people to become involved in government.” If elected, he said, he would reach out to, and perhaps even nominate for his Cabinet, Hanover High alumni such as 1984 graduate Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat representing New York state’s 18th Congressional District and serving on the House Intelligence Committee, and 1989 graduate Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who in 2014 wrote the influential book Corruption in America.

While Teachout describes herself as a “progressive Democrat” whose politics might not always line up with Murphy’s, she said she can envision her former teacher holding the feet of U.S. senators and representatives to the fire.

“He was an extremely demanding teacher who believed it was important for us to deeply learn the facts,” Teachout recalled on Wednesday. “He believed in the possibility of truth and facts, and the possibility of learning from history.”




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