Observer-Reporter Endorses Tim MurphyWednesday, October 27, 2010
A little less than six months after Democrat Mark Critz and Republican Tim Burns squared off in a hotly contested, tooth-and-nail special election to serve the remainder of the term left unfinished by the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha, they're competing again for a full, two-year term representing the 12th District; and, in the 18th District, Republican incumbent Tim Murphy is once more facing token opposition for the seat to which he was first elected in 2002.
In May, before the special election, we endorsed Critz for the 12th District seat, and we see no reason to change that judgment. In the spring, we pointed out that Critz, a former Murtha aide who hails from Johnstown, was hard-working and dedicated, and there's been no indication that those qualities have diminished in his brief time on Capitol Hill.
The Burns campaign has not been as visible this fall, but, as he did in the special election, the self-made millionaire from North Strabane Township has worked obsessively to tie Critz to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - so much so, in fact, that at times you have to wonder exactly whom Burns is running against.
In the 18th District, none of Murphy's opponents has ever managed to get more than 42 percent of the vote. There's no reason to believe Democrat Dan Connolly will do any better, even though he insists his below-the-radar campaign could catch fire thanks to the fall's rampant anti-incumbent mood. This newspaper has endorsed Murphy in each of his previous campaigns, and we do so again this year.
At times, Murphy can be a political shape-shifter. For example, he has harshly criticized the health care overhaul that was approved this year, but the former psychologist has also said that he would not support its repeal unless some sort of viable alternative is in place. In a meeting with the newspaper's editorial board, he was hard to pin down where global warming is concerned, making only an anodyne suggestion that we all want clean air and water. He even declined to give President Barack Obama a letter grade for his first two years in office.
But there's no denying the depth of Murphy's knowledge on the issues, particularly health care. He was also the co-author of a House bill aimed at China that could impose duties on the country's imports if they continue to devalue their currency. The measure, written with Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, could go some distance toward protecting struggling rust-belt manufacturers.
In the past, Murphy has proudly stated that Congressional Quarterly has called him one of the most independent Republicans in Congress, and he's definitely no fire-breathing partisan. Amid much of the overheated rhetoric generated from both sides of the aisle, Murphy is a breath of fresh air.
Connolly is 27 and a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School. His father, a small-business owner, was killed when USAir Flight 427 crashed in Beaver County in 1994. Though he brings many admirable qualities to the campaign, including a law degree from George Washington University and time spent as a clerk for the U.S. Senate's judiciary committee, he needs more seasoning before he's ready to sit in the U.S. House of Representatives. We'd like to see him remain committed to public service and, perhaps, try his luck for a less high-profile office.
The 12th District covers all of Greene County and parts of Washington, Allegheny, Fayette, Armstrong, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland counties, while the 18th District includes parts of Washington, Allegheny, Westmoreland and Beaver counties.
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