Doyle, Murphy, Kelly win re-election bids

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Three Pittsburgh-area congressmen won re-election Tuesday, indicating that voters, whatever their concerns about national issues, saw little reason to change their representation in Washington.

Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, defeated Republican optometrist Hans Lessmann of Forest Hills; Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, turned back a challenge from Larry Maggi, Democratic chairman of the Washington County commissioners; and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, defeated Democrat Missa Eaton of Sharon, Mercer County, and independent Steven Porter of Wattsburg, Erie County.

Mr. Doyle on Tuesday night pledged to continue fighting for the middle class and the working class, saying those are the people "I grew up with and lived with my whole life."

"The pulse of this district is my pulse," Mr. Doyle said. "These are my friends and neighbors."

Mr. Doyle ran against a political newcomer. While Mr. Murphy faced a veteran politician in Mr. Maggi, the latter lacked district-wide name recognition and the incumbent's financial resources. Mr. Kelly faced a neophyte in Ms. Eaton and a twice-failed congressional candidate in Mr. Porter.

Mr. Murphy said he was "grateful and humbled" by the victory. Over the next two years, he said, he will continue fighting for jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania's steel and energy industries and to make sure that "Medicare is there for tomorrow."

"It is quite a list of responsibilities we have," he said.

Mr. Kelly said reviving the economy and cutting the deficit were at the heart of his first run for Congress and of his successful re-election campaign. "The goals of two years ago remain the same today," he said in a statement late Tuesday.

District 3

Mr. Kelly, 64, is a former member of Butler City Council whose win in 2010 helped the GOP take control of the House of Representatives. He had a strong lead in fundraising in the district, which takes in all of Armstrong, Butler and Mercer counties and parts of Crawford, Erie, Venango and Warren counties.

Ms. Eaton, 49, a longtime teacher at Penn State's Shenango campus, said she had sought to overcome the financial disadvantage with vigorous field campaigning. Following her primary win, she gave up her post as assistant professor of psychology at Penn State to campaign full time.

Rather than relying on expensive media buys, her campaign used signs, mailers, stickers and "voter-to-voter and candidate-to-voter contacts," she said.

She carried her home county of Mercer and did well in Erie, but those numbers were not enough to compensate for Mr. Kelly's very strong showing in Butler and Armstrong counties. Mr. Porter finished in third place.

Mr. Porter campaigned as a Democrat against former U.S. Rep. Phil English in 2004 and 2006. He is a retired teacher and school administrator. He said he decided to run as an independent this time after concluding that the political system had turned into a "two-party tyranny."

District 14

Mr. Doyle, 59, a former insurance broker who's now serving his ninth term, campaigned on his record of delivering money and opportunity to his district, which includes the city of Pittsburgh, other parts of Allegheny County and Arnold and New Kensington in Westmoreland County. His current projects include conversion of the former Connelley school building in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District into a green business and education center.

A party stalwart, Mr. Doyle supported President Barack Obama's economic stimulus and health-care plans, both of which provided fodder for Mr. Lessmann's campaign.

Mr. Lessmann, 52, said his knowledge of health care and his experience as a small business owner -- he has his own optometry practice -- prepared him for a role in the nation's continuing debate on medical coverage. He warned that the president's health care plan would increase the number of people seeking care without increasing the number of health-care professionals available to provide it.

His prescription for a health-care overhaul: eliminating health care as an employment benefit and giving residents income-tax credits that they would use to purchase customized health plans.

District 18

Mr. Murphy, 60, now serving his fifth term, again sailed to victory even though the district -- covering parts of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties -- has a Democratic plurality. In Mr. Maggi, a retired state trooper and former Washington County sheriff, Mr. Murphy faced a stronger challenge than usual.

"It was an experience," Mr. Maggi said. "I'm not going to make excuses. People came out, they voted, they did their Democratic duty, and Congressman Murphy was the winner. I respect that."

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Maggi appealed to some of the same groups. Both are anti-abortion and supporters of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Maggi is an ex-Marine, and Mr. Murphy is a lieutenant colonel in the Naval Reserve Medical Service Corps, working with combat-wounded soldiers. Mr. Murphy worked to save the 911th Air Wing in Moon this year.

Mr. Maggi, of Buffalo Township, sought the congressional seat in 2002 but lost the Democratic primary to Jack Machek.

This time, Mr. Maggi ran on a pledge to take common sense and fiscal stewardship -- hallmarks of his tenure as Washington County sheriff and commissioner, he said -- to Washington, D.C. He also emphasized the county's job-creation boom, partly related to natural gas development.

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Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159. Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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