2010-02-18 / Local & State

Murtha’s Wife Urged To Run For Seat In Congress


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The wife of the late congressman John Murtha is being urged to run for the House seat that he held for nearly four decades, a newspaper reported Friday.

“While people have been mindful that this is a difficult time for the family, many have called to suggest Joyce as the perfect person to hold her husband’s seat,’’ Murtha spokesman Matthew Mazonkey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Murtha, a Democrat, died Monday at age 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery. Public viewings are planned Sunday and Monday at a Johnstown funeral home, followed by a Tuesday funeral.

Mazonkey did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment from Joyce Murtha and other details.

Several potential candidates have expressed interest in running for the seat Murtha had held since 1974 in western Pennsylvania’s sprawling 12th Congressional District, which covers all or parts of nine counties.

They include Democrats Mark Singel, a former lieutenant governor who works as a Harrisburg lobbyist; state Sen. John Wozniak; and Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso.

Prospective Republican candidates include William Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who unsuccessfully challenged Murtha in 2008, and Eighty Four businessman Tim Burns.

If Joyce Murtha decides to run, she would be following the footsteps of 46 other women who have served in the U.S. House or Senate as the direct successors to their late husbands, according to a Web site maintained by the House clerk’s office.

They include Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., who was elected in 1998 after Sonny Bono was killed in a skiing accident, and the late Margaret Chase Smith, R-Maine, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.

Gov. Ed Rendell will set the date of a special election to decide who will complete Murtha’s current term, which expires at the end of this year. In separate balloting, the district’s Republicans and Democrats will choose nominees in the May 18 primary to represent the district for the next two years.

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