MADISON – A white Democrat running for state Senate said this week he feels unsafe in minority communities and his pulse might have quickened if he saw his Black Republican opponent on the street a few years ago.
In a Tuesday appearance on WISN-AM (1130), Adam Murphy acknowledged to host Dan O’Donnell that his pulse possibly would have quickened if he had seen his opponent, Julian Bradley, on the street three years ago.
“I suspect that certainly the possibility is there,” Murphy said. “Racism though requires you to act on it and that’s the distinction that I keep trying to make.”
Asked if it was racist to tighten his coat around himself in such a scenario, Murphy said, “My action is recognizing that I did that, perhaps unconsciously, and making an effort to change that.”
At another point in the conversation, he said: “I have interacted with Julian several times. I have absolutely no qualms with it.”
Bradley, who if elected would be the first Black Republican to serve in the Wisconsin Senate, declined to comment through a spokesman. Andrew Hitt, the chairman of the state Republican Party, called Murphy’s comments shocking.
“He seems to be scared to even walk down the street and see somebody of a different skin color,” he said. “I don’t know how else to describe that but shocking.”
Courtney Beyer, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said neither the party nor the Senate Democratic caucus worked with Murphy or provided him with campaign help.
Murphy and Bradley are running to replace outgoing state Sen. Dave Craig, a Republican from Big Bend. The district covering suburbs south and west of Milwaukee is reliably Republican.
Murphy, an IT business owner from Franklin, went on O’Donnell’s show to discuss a 2019 Facebook post in which he called himself “racist, sexist, ageist” and wrote that he was trying to overcome those feelings.
“My friends are predominantly white, and I would be lying if I said my pulse doesn’t quicken or my sense of awareness doesn’t increase when I’m in a minority neighborhood, or a group of black kids or Hispanic kids walk past me in the mall. Do I tug my coat a little tighter? I do,” he wrote in January 2019.
“Should I look away when I see two men kissing or two women kissing? No. Might I? I’d be lying if I said no,” he wrote.
Murphy wrote that he would explore why he and others have these feelings.
“I will continue to listen. And I will answer and explain as honestly as I can,” he wrote.
He went on O’Donnell’s show to talk about his views and his efforts to overcome racist views after the Facebook post resurfaced on social media this week.
“If we cannot first recognize and then acknowledge our own shortcomings and biases, which means not pointing them out in others but actually seeing them in ourselves, then we will never overcome them and I would like to overcome them,” he told O’Donnell.
“However that requires talking about the things we are told we should not talk about, like you and I are doing — money, sex, politics, religion, race, sexual orientation. And it requires more than a thoughtlessly shared meme.”
Alison Dirr of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.