Friday, February 12, 2010

Politics PA: Report on whether special election Murtha vacancy

UPDATED — PoliticsPA: Rendell undecided when to hold special election
By Alex Roarty and Louis Jacobson
PoliticsPA Staff Writers

Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday he hasn’t decided whether he’ll hold a special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha on or before the state’s May 18th primary.

The governor told reporters on a conference call that his “inclination as always is to save money” but said later congress is considering “some extra special issues” right now that demand the 12th Congressional District have representation. Holding a special election separate from the primary would like cost the state at least several hundred thousand dollars.

Rendell has 10 days to declare a vacancy and decide when to hold a special election, said a spokesman for the Department of State. The special election then has to be at least 60 days later.

A special election, although it can be held on the same day, is not the same as the primary. Candidates theoretically might have their names on two separate ballots on May 18 — one for the primary, the next for the special election.

If the special election is held before May 18, the winning candidate must have his or her name on the primary ballot if they want to seek re-election, meaning they would be forced to campaign for and win two elections within months of each other.

Party rules for Democrats and Republicans will determine how the special election candidate is selected. For Republicans, each county committee in the district will be assigned a certain number of conferees to send to the selection meeting. The conferees will vote to decide who becomes the party’s candidate.

For Democrats, the county committees in the 12th Districts will meet to recommend a candidate to the state party’s 50-member executive committee. The executive committee, comprising members from across Pennsylvania, will decide whether to endorse a candidate.

The 12th District is spread across southwest Pennsylvania, including parts of Greene, Fayette, Allegheny, Cambria, Washington, Armstrong, Somerset, Westmoreland and Indiana counties.

Tribune Review

Support builds for Murtha's wife taking seat
By Salena Zito
Friday, February 12, 2010
Last updated: 8:41 am

Gov. Ed Rendell will decide when to conduct a special election for Murtha's seat. He told reporters he is leaning toward the May 18 primary to keep costs down.

The state Democratic and Republican parties each would choose a nominee. Independent candidates also could enter the race.


Murtha's death sparks inquiry
By Mike Wereschagin
Friday, February 12, 2010

A congressman in line to take over the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha's subcommittee chairmanship said he plans to look into how Bethesda Naval Medical Center handled the operation that preceded Murtha's death.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Washington, said the inquiry likely won't rise to the level of a congressional hearing, but he and other senior legislators in both parties want to know why Murtha died after undergoing a routine gallbladder removal. Murtha died Monday from complications arising from the surgery. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia, said Murtha's large intestine was damaged during the procedure.

"This is normally a pretty routine operation. What I want to know is, what went wrong? Are there problems (at Bethesda)? Do we need to do anything to help?" said Dicks, who is next in line to assume Murtha's longtime chairmanship of the powerful Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

Dicks plans to speak with the commanding officer at Bethesda as well as Navy officials on Capitol Hill. Top Republicans on the committee, including ranking member Bill Young of Florida, support the inquiry, Dicks said.

A Bethesda spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

"This is not a witch hunt. We're simply trying to do our job over here. I have no preconceived conclusions, though there is no question about the fact that there was a mistake made," Dicks said.

Murtha's laparoscopic surgery, where a surgeon using a video camera removes the gallbladder through small incisions, is among the most common operations in the country. Murtha underwent the surgery Jan. 28 and went home that day. He was admitted to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington on Feb. 1.

Fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of people who undergo the surgery die, according to the American College of Surgeons.

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