Pennsylvania Democrats have chosen former congressional aide Mark Critz as the nominee for a special election to fill the U.S. House seat once held by late Rep. John Murtha.
Party officials cite Critz's weekend victory in a nonbinding straw poll by local party members. Chairman T.J. Rooney calls Critz "a phenomenal candidate" and says the party looks forward to a "spirited and exciting" race.
Critz is from Johnstown, Murtha's hometown. He won 46 of the 83 votes cast at a meeting Saturday in Delmont, near Pittsburgh. He was a longtime aide of Murtha's and had been endorsed by the late congressman's widow.
Former state treasurer and auditor general Barbara Hafer received 22 votes. Cambria County controller Ed Cernic took 14.
Murtha died last month at age 77.
The special election is May 18.
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