The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 1, 2010

Parties set to make House picks

JOHNSTOWN — The Democratic and Republican parties in the 12th Congressional District are poised to choose their nominees for the special election to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown.

The state Democratic Party’s 50-member executive committee will make the party’s final decision, but 100 Democratic delegates from the nine counties in the district will gather Saturday morning in Delmont, Westmoreland County, to vote on a recommendation.

Although it’s a nonbinding recommendation, it is designed to give the party’s faithful an opportunity to voice their opinion to the state committee.

The executive committee will select the nominee Monday in a vote either by voice via phone or by e-mail, Jack Hanna, chairman of the Southwest Democratic Caucus, said Monday.

Under party rules, Gov. Ed Rendell and the state’s Democratic Congressional Committee also may provide input, Hanna said.

“The idea is for the executive committee to be exposed to as much information as possible about the candidates,” Hanna said.

The Democrats’ selection will come just days before Republicans from the 12th district make their choice.

They will meet March 11 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe to choose their party’s nominee for the special election. A total of 134 conferees will be eligible to vote.

The special election will be held on May 18, the same day as the primary election when voters also will nominate party candidates for the November election when the full two-year term for congressman from the 12th District will be filled. Murtha, who was up for re-election this year, died Feb. 8 of complications from gallbladder surgery.

Four Democrats are in the running for the special election nomination: Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. of West Taylor Township; Mark Critz of Johnstown, who resigned last week from Murtha’s staff to run for the seat; Barbara Hafer of Indiana, a former state treasurer and state auditor; and Navy veteran Ryan Bucchianeri of Monongahela, Allegheny County.

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