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EXCLUSIVE: Hafer running to succeed Murtha

EXCLUSIVE: Hafer running to succeed Murtha

Former state treasurer and auditor general Barbara Hafer said Monday that she will seek the House seat long held by the late Congressman John Murtha, making her the first Democrat to declare her candidacy in the wake of Murtha’s death last week.

In an exclusive interview with pa2010.com, Hafer said that “I will never be able to fill Murtha’s shoes, but I would be honored to follow him.”

“Of course everyone is shocked and saddened about John Murtha passing away,” she said, “but we always have to look forward and try to continue the work he has done for our state.”

Almost from the moment Murtha died of complications from gallbladder surgery last week, Hafer was mentioned as a top-tier candidate for a Democratic Party eager to hold the 12th District seat. She will bring to the race a long record in elected office, as well as a possible measure of bipartisan appeal—she was a Republican for years before switching parties in 2003. The Indiana resident is also a registered nurse, a political asset at a time when health care is still very much on the public radar. Having competed in several statewide elections, Hafer said, would give her an “excellent chance” at winning both the primary and special elections this Spring, as well as a general election for a full two-year term in November.

“I’ve been around this area for many years,” Hafer said.

Numerous other Democrats are also said to be considering the race, including former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel. It remains to be seen how much party support Hafer has behind her. If Democratic leaders begin to line up for her, it could discourage other Democrats from jumping into the mix.

Hafer served as a commissioner in Allegheny County in the 1980s, auditor general in the 1990s and treasurer from 1997-2005. She sought the GOP nomination for governor in 2002, but after party leaders coalesced behind then-Attorney General Mike Fisher, Hafer endorsed Democrat Ed Rendell, and switched parties the next year. She was also the Republican nominee for governor against Bob Casey in 1990.

February 15, 2010 at 4:30 pm

--John Manganaro

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