Parties to pick nominees for Murtha seat

    Republicans and Democrats will select their candidates soon for the specialelection to fill John Murtha’s Congressional seat in western Pennsylvania.

    Democrats from the 12th Congressional District will convene in Delmont, Westmoreland County, on March 6 to recommend a candidate for the May 18 special election.

    But, as State Party Chairman T.J. Rooney points out, their choice won’t be binding. The state party’s executive committee will make the final decision a couple of days later.

    Rooney: It is, at the end of the day, the responsibility of the executive committee. And members of the executive committee will receive and weigh information from a myriad of sources, including polling that’s been done in the district.

    A few days later, Republicans will convene in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, to select their candidate.  Unlike the Democratic situation, the pick who emerges from this session will be the candidate.

    Party spokesman Mike Barley says he’s confident the selection process will be fairer and more inclusive than the approach New York State Republicans took in picking a special election candidate last year.

    In that case, grassroots conservatives rebelled against the GOP’s pick, and the Democratic candidate ended up winning.

    Barley: That was a process where a handful of people picked the candidate on a conference call. Our process will be open. There will be an opportunity for the press to be involved in the entire meeting. We will,  again, listen. Any candidate that’s interested is more than welcome to come.

    When voting to fill Murtha’s seat, 12th District residents will simultaneously select general election candidates for the next Congressional term. Rooney says Democrats will try to make sure they have the same candidate in each race.  Barley says it’s too early to know whether the GOP will do the same.

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