The Republican congressional upheaval continues, as the newest Republican to leave Congress is Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy. Only a day after he announced he would retire after the 2018 elections, he backtracked and said he would resign effective October 21. Between the scandal of his extramarital affair and the mistreatment of his staff, many senior Republicans were hesitant about the representative finishing his term.
The lawmaker has been an active voice on anti-abortion regulation during his 15 years in Congress. Therefore, Representative Murphy surprised his constituency when the scandal of an alleged text to his girlfriend saying she should get an abortion after a pregnancy scare reached the hands of the media. He originally thought he could survive the allegations of his adultery but, coupled with the negative stories of his congressional office, it would have been a tough road to recovery.
Multiple claims have been coming out about the mistreatment of his staff, which increased the pressure for his resignation. The House Ethics Committee would have had to investigate the allegations if he remained in office; however, the investigation was halted the day of his resignation. Former staff have attributed the complete turnover to his chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, who is responsible for the regular harassment and verbal abuse. She sent a memo to Representative Murphy and used him as a scapegoat for her “pattern of sustained inappropriate behavior.” Another investigation of Mosychuk could have been underway regarding compensation earned from his campaign while on leave without pay and her outstanding congressional income. Her statement that her salary is compliant with House rules differs from the calculations of public records.
These damaging stories have led to a new special election on a solid Republican safe seat, though the scandals have given the Democrats momentum. The possibility of a low turnout in a pro-Democratic climate increases the chances of a Democratic nominee. Governor Tom Wolf can call the special election anytime between early December until the middle of 2018, theoretically placing the special and the usual primary elections on the same day. Despite being in the hands of a Republican for so long, Democrats still hold a six-point party registration in the 18th District and have plenty of local officeholders, and the Democrats victory in the 2010 special election in a GOP seat gives reason for both the Democrats and Republicans to take this election seriously.
On the other hand, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers still believes that the Republicans can easily hold the seat; the NRCC has been undefeated this year. Though there is a GOP stronghold in PA’s 18th District, the Democratic grassroots movements are showing promise in the election. Pam Iovino, a veteran endorsed by VoteVets, Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, and state Representative Dan Miller are all potential Democratic candidates. Some Republican nominees include State Senator Guy Reschenthaler, a former judge and Iraq War veteran, and State Senator Kim Ward.
Though it seems unlikely, another potential shift deals with Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s longtime position. Representative Linda Sanchez, who has the lowest ranking leadership position, has been adamant in calling for Representative Pelosi step down though they both represent California. Most believe that Representative Pelosi’s 15-year leadership is steadfast and see Representative Sanchez’s comments as a distraction from winning the House back.
Lastly, since Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee announced his retirement and Governor Bill Haslam said he would not run for the senator’s seat, Representative Marsha Blackburn has stepped in to announce her bid for his seat. She is a vocal supporter of President Trump and his campaign promises while criticizing the inefficiencies of Republican Senate. As a conservative herself, her bid makes the climate for conservative Republicans running for office stronger and increases their chances to run an influential campaign.
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