As expected, Gov. Ed Rendell has selected May 18, the date of the primary, for the special election to fill the balance of the term of the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha.
Mr. Rendell cited cost savings as the reason for his choice, noting that the logistics of an election on another date could cost counties as much as $683,000. Observers had also anticipated the simultaneous elections because the primary is likely to attract a larger turnout than an isolated special election, and the conventional wisdom is that a larger turnout would provide a marginal advantage for Democrats in a congressional district that was carried by John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
"At a time when all governments are trying to meet their challenges with reduced revenues, it would be unconscionable to force counties to spend money to hold an additional election which, by law, could be held little more than 30 days earlier," Mr. Rendell said in his statement.
The Republican and Democratic party organizations will nominate candidates for the special election for Mr. Murtha's unexpired term. They will run on May 18, the same day that the voters of the distinct choose the nominees for the November general election for a subsequent two-year term.
Mr. Murtha died Feb. 8 at the age of 77, following a 36-year career in the U.S. House, a record for members from Pennsylvania.
The 12th District covers all of Greene County and meanders through parts of eight other counties - Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.