Another Hafer planning to enter politics

Ex-treasurer's daughter to run for Congress

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Beth Hafer hopes to follow her well-known mother, Barbara Hafer, onto the region's ballots.

Ms. Hafer, 35, a former school teacher who now works as a vice president in a government consulting firm owned by her mother, said she plans to run for Congress next year against U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.

She talked about her ambitions for the seat yesterday, just after listening to Mr. Murphy at a news conference on federal base closing issues in Oakdale. The younger Ms. Hafer was standing with her mother, the former Allegheny County commissioner, state treasurer and state auditor general.

The elder Ms. Hafer considered running for Mr. Murphy's 18th District seat herself in the 2006 election cycle. Despite the ardent courting of national and local Democratic leaders, the veteran politician decided against entering the race.

Instead, the Democratic nomination went to political novice Chad Kluko, and Mr. Murphy, a psychologist and former state senator, cruised to re-election despite the Democratic wave that dominated that election cycle.

The younger Ms. Hafer is a Mt. Lebanon resident. Her mother's political roots and voting address remain in the Mon Valley portion of the district.

Mr. Murphy could face a tougher re-election test in 2008 against Ms. Hafer or one of several other Democrats eyeing a seat in a district that retains a significant Democratic registration edge.

Among other Democrats who are considering bids in the district, according to Jim Burn, the party's Allegheny County chairman, are Dan Wholey, a member of the family that owns the Strip District fish company, and Stan Savran, the sports broadcaster who was courted as a potential challenger last year by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Carrie James, a DCCC aide, said the committee has had several conversations with Ms. Hafer along with other local Democrats about potential challenges to the incumbent.

"We have spoken to her. We are aggressively recruiting for a strong candidate in the district," she said. "If there's a primary, the DCCC is not going to get involved, but we're confident that we will have a strong candidate."

Ms. James contended that Mr. Murphy would be vulnerable in the next election because "he's a rubber stamp for the Bush administration."

She also pointed to scrutiny of the lawmakers over charges that he had used office employees for political work.

Mr. Murphy said he had no comment on potential challengers after the news conference on base closing issues that also drew the two Hafers.

"We're focusing on keeping the commissary and PX open today," he said. "If some people want to show up and shake hands, that's their right."


Post-Gazette politics editor James O'Toole can be reached at jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.


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