Drew Murray is a married 48-year-old father of two with a cool job: He designs and sells storage systems for museums to house the parts of their collections not on display. He grew up in a household of Democrats in Villanova, a Philadelphia suburb. Yes, he voted for Clinton four years ago. But over time he’d become disillusioned with the party he’d joined as a freshman at Dickinson College. He opposes abortion rights and felt that the Democrats had lurched leftward on that issue and others, leaving no place for him anymore.
So two years ago he took a leap and changed his registration to Republican. Now he’s a Trump voter, if not exactly a Trump zealot. “I’ve seen the anger that people have for the president,” he told me. We were sitting at a metal table with an owl figurine as its centerpiece, overlooking the two Comcast skyscrapers that dominate the Philadelphia skyline. “I understand that anger,” he continued. “I get it. But for me, it’s not necessarily a vote for the president. It’s a vote against the Democratic Party. They’ve gone so far left.”
Murray is an anomaly in more than one respect. He’s also running for office, as a Republican, in a place that really dislikes Republicans. Philadelphia County is the bluest in the state, and Democrats hold a 6-to-1 advantage over the GOP in the state-House district where Murray is on the ballot. The district is wealthy and liberal, home to tony Rittenhouse Square, grand townhouses, and upscale apartment buildings. “That district will eat him alive,” Craig McCoy, a longtime reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, told me when I asked him about Murray’s candidacy.