A recent poll from Susquehanna Polling and Research shows the Democrat, Mark Critz, building a lead on the Republican nominee, Tim Burns in next Tuesday's Special Election for the 12th Congressional District. The margin listed was 44 to 38 in favor of Critz. It's important to remind those supporters of Bill Russell who are considering writing him in what is at stake.
The Democrat, Mark Critz, will most likely go along with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat leadership in voting for amnesty for illegal immigrants, a revised cap-and-trade bill and other items destined to increase our debt and further strip away our freedoms. Considering the narrow margin that passed the much-maligned health care bill, it is possible that Mr. Critz could be a deciding vote on at least one major piece of legislation between now and January 2011.
A write-in vote for Bill Russell in the Special Election, in a majority Democrat district, will only split conservative and independent votes; throwing the election to Critz. To Mr. Russell's credit, his campaign ads have been focused on the Republican primary.
The rationale for writing in Mr. Russell seems to be based on a perceived lack of fairness in how Mr. Burns was selected for the Republican nomination. Let's review a few issues relating to this process:
1. Mr. Murtha passed away February 8th. With the primary already scheduled for May 18th, that's only little more than a 3 month time span. So we are dealing with a tight time frame and a term that is already over 50% complete.
2. Governor Rendell, for once, made the prudent decision to schedule the Special Election on the same day as the primary. Considering the current fiscal situation in the state, Murtha's passing was actually well-timed (if such a thing can be said) from the taxpayers' standpoint. Had Mr. Murtha passed on a few months prior, the pressure to hold a stand-alone special election would've been enormous and costly for taxpayers.
3. Mr. Russell ran a spirited campaign against John Murtha in 2008, a very difficult year for Republicans.
4. Mr. Burns announced his campaign for the Republican nomination several months before Mr. Murtha showed signs of ill health.
And yet, some Russell supporters are apparently not satisfied with just pursuing the Republican nomination for a full term. While allowing all Republican voters their say in the Special Election nomination would've been ideal, for the reasons stated above, it just wasn't practical or cost-effective for taxpayers.
Had John Murtha lived, we would simply be left with a spirited primary race between two dissimilar candidates with similar views.
Instead we have a truncated process and hard feelings from a substantial block of conservative voters. If Mark Critz prevails over Tim Burns in the Special Election due to write-in votes for Mr. Russell, Murtha will be laughing at his conservative constituents from the grave, knowing that if he had to move on to his final reward when he did, at least the timing would throw his opponents into disunity and chaos.
While it is considered rude to speak ill of the dead, I believe having Mark Critz win this race solely because of divisions within the Republican Party would be Mr. Murtha's final insult to the principled citizens of southwestern Pennsylvania.