GLENS FALLS -- Congress is "incredibly broken" and needs "some systemic reforms" to reduce the role of partisanship, U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy said Wednesday.
Among the reforms Murphy is suggesting is placing term limits on House leadership positions, and possibly term limits for House members.
"It feels like there is just a lot of time that is spent thinking, ‘OK -- how can we angle for the better story and the better sound bites positioning for the next election,' as opposed to sitting down and trying to solve the problem," he said in a meeting Wednesday with The Post-Star editorial board.
"That's not one side or the other. That's kind of the culture that I see in Washington that I find incredibly broken and frustrating," said Murphy, D-Glens Falls, who is running for re-election in November.
Last week, the congressman's Republican challenger, Chris Gibson, called for eight-year term limits on House members, with a change from 2-year to 4-year terms.
At the time, Murphy said he hadn't given too much thought to term limits.
On Wednesday, Murphy said term limits could be placed on leadership positions simply by changing House rules, and would not require legislation.
Murphy said the current leadership system "leads to extremism" because posts tend to go to those with the most seniority.
"The people that are around for 35 years to be in charge tend to be the more extreme in both of the parties," he said.
He said he would be open to term limits on members, but for longer than eight years.
"Conceptually I think the idea of having some kind of limit is not a bad thing," he said.
At a forum later on Wednesday at the Glens Falls Senior Center, Murphy said he would consider term limits of perhaps 12 to15 years for members, but felt eight years might be too short because Congress would lose members who have institutional knowledge.
"I like having some new ideas and idealism, but I also like balancing that with some experience," he said.
Contacted later on Wednesday, Gibson said he is pleased that Murphy is thinking about term limits.
Gibson said that changing to four-year terms, with a limit of two terms, would be the same term arrangement as for the president.
Limiting the number of times House members could run for re-election would reduce the influence that money plays in elections, because candidates would not have the opportunity to build up large "war chests" over time, said Gibson, a retired Army colonel from Kinderhook, in Columbia County.
Murphy said he has co-sponsored legislation to establish a voluntary public financing system for congressional candidates.
Gibson said he opposes a public financing system because of the cost.
"This is not the time for more big government and more spending," he said.
Murphy said he understands concerns about the cost of a public campaign finance system, but feels it would enable House members to spend less time on campaign fund-raising and more time on creating policy.
Murphy said he also has co-sponsored legislation that would increase public participation in the congressional redistricting process that will take place prior to the 2012 election.
The legislation would require the entity responsible for redistricting in each state to maintain a public website and post information such as meeting schedules, proposed redistricting plans and transcripts or video recordings of meetings.
Gibson said he, too, supports the proposed redistricting legislation.
The two candidates are gearing up for the November election.
Murphy said he has recorded campaign commercials that he expects to be airing "in the next few weeks," but had not yet determined just when.
"I've done some ads already," he said. "We're talking about my experience and my values and what I've done in the world being an entrepreneur -- built businesses and created jobs."
Gibson said he has a media plan in place that will begin "at the appropriate time."
Gibson said his commercials will have "a positive message about how we can restore our republic."
Gibson will get some help with fund-raising next week from a national GOP leader.
House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio will be a "special guest" at an event to honor Gibson on Aug. 20 at the Saratoga Reading Room in Saratoga Springs, said Dan Odescalchi, a Gibson spokesman.