It probably won’t draw the same attention as Donald Trump’s “grab her by the p–” clip. But a prominent Oceanside city official, who is running to represent the 76th Assembly district, has been haunted by a crude You Tube comedy video he made.
Republican Michael Murray was hired by Chris Rodriguez to be his personal city council aide when Rodriguez was elected to the Oceanside city council last year. Rodriguez says he was proud to hire his longtime friend who he served with in the Marines. As Rodriguez's aide, Murray represents Rodriguez and the city of Oceanside at community events and meetings. Although he’s never held elective office, Murray announced last month he is running to unseat Democrat Tasha Boerner Horvath to represent California’s 76th Assembly District.
Murray’s You Tube comedy video posted last year included raunchy rants about frisky females who, “…reached over in the movie theater and j–ed him off.” A different rant incorporated religion and relationships: “Do you believe in the power of prayer?…Just pray over her p– and hope the s– ain’t got what you think it got. Just pray over the p– before you f–…I hate to say it like that, but you’re going to be on your knees anyway so why you’re face to face with it, put a hand on it, man, and pray ‘Christ keep the DNA off of me.’”
(Murray made it clear after this article was published that he was not talking about himself receiving the sex act.)
Some women, he claimed had: “…stretch marks on they t–…Those girls look like you can’t pour water on them cause they might multiply.”
His Oceanside neighbors responded on-line with “Creepy,” “So much for those family values,” “yuck,” and “…profanity laced crude and sexist remarks…do not bode well for his present and future political endeavors.”
Murray responded to them in writing: “Before starting my political run, I was a semi-professional comedian. I have to push conversation to the limit to find the best material for the stage. As a situational comic, all of my material was based on real life and my humorous regurgitation of it.” He added that the video went up “…before I was a candidate and before I had any political aspirations. It’s sad people will go this far to eliminate a candidate that they don’t align with, but here we are…I'm a diverse person with a diverse background. I've never been an integrity violator.”
At a recent Republican gathering he claimed he was not a career politician. Just a patriot from a hard-luck background.
“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Who in this room hasn’t?...I grew up in gang-ridden, drug-infested Brooklyn, New York and I’ve never been arrested. I was raised by a single mother who was also a crack addict and extremely abusive and I don’t use drugs…I’ve been battling the odds my entire life. Statistically men that come where I come from don’t make it to 22 years old . Most of my friends are dead or in prison.” Murray said he left that environment when he joined the Marine Corps“…to serve my country, honorably, not once, but twice in combat. I bear the names of dead Marines on my body, literally.”
He added that as a one-time homeless veteran, he can understand the homeless issue better than any other candidate.
On September 30, Murray said by phone that Sgt. Duane Rios, Sgt. Eli Parker and Corporal Tyler “Cookie” Fey, all friends killed in battle, are permanently inked on his skin. He says he resents the idea that he has been portrayed as anti-female. “I have two daughters who I give thousands of kisses to every day.”
Murray says he may have re-thought posting his comedy workout routine on line. But on the other hand, “I don’t believe in lying to people. I believe in honesty and transparency.” He says his routine had the same ribald content that’s been used for decades by comics from George Carlin and Richard Pryor to Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle.
And besides, Murray, who served in Iraq from 2001 to 2005, says that Marines who actually do the dirty work and experience actual death and destruction, often develop a twisted sense of humor just to cope.
“Marines are good men who do dirty work with a smile on their face. There are some changes on your outlook and your psyche after fighting in a war. One of the first things to morph is your sense of humor. We have honor and integrity and we also have a capacity for discussing things after we have seen our friends laid out [dead]. Humor is the one thing that keeps us human.”
Murray thinks voters can and will accept his maverick candidacy. “I’m the most unusual conservative Republican out there…People told me that I shouldn’t even run for this race because I don’t have enough name recognition or experience. But I raised $50,000 in first 30 days.” He says that is more than the other two Republican hopefuls for the 76th Assembly seat, Ray Pearson and Melanie Burkholder of Carlsbad. When asked by phone where that money came from, Murray said he did not have that information and would not have to disclose that until December.
Meanwhile the comedy routine haunts him.
“I was recently made aware of this offensive FB posting of your aide,” wrote Dianne Nygaard, a conservation activist who regularly participates in city of Oceanside politics. She was writing to Rodriguez, Murray’s boss. “This behavior is not acceptable by anyone, let alone by a representative of an elected official of our city. You are responsible for appointing this person. I ask you immediately take the action to terminate his city employment.”
Rodriguez responded by email: “I do not support or condone the video Mr. Murray recorded long before I hired him as a council aide. My concern and interests completely rely on his ability to perform tasks as my aide while he is at work. What Mr. Murray does on his personal time is not my business. Mr. Murray shares in the freedoms protected under the United States Constitution, particularly the 1st amendment.”
Each Oceanside councilmember gets to hire his own aide. Last year each aide earned between $80,000 and $103,000, which included base pay, “other pay,” and benefits. (Oceanside City Council members only make between $40,000 and $50,000 themselves).
Nygaard told Rodriguez that if Rodriguez does not fire Murray, “I will ask the city to do so.”
It is unclear if the Oceanside city manager has the ability to fire a council aide since the aides work exclusively at the pleasure of the councilmembers they work for.
The loose and unspecified work structures for Oceanside city council aides has long been an issue. At a city council meeting on September 18, Deputy Mayor Jack Feller admitted that previous council aides were known to abuse the system by working on political campaigns during regular work hours. Former city councilwoman Shari Mackin says that former aides Don Greene (who worked for Councilman Chuck Lowery) and Ben Sullivan (Councilmember Jerry Kern) were famous for working on political projects while on the city’s clock.
Murray says he works on his campaign for the Assembly at nights and on weekends.