CANONSBURG, Pa. — Republicans in Pennsylvania have chosen state Rep. Rick Saccone as their a nominee for next year’s special election to complete the term of former Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an anti-abortion lawmaker who resigned after his hometown newspaper reported he had suggested a mistress get an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant.
Saccone, 59, a retired Air Force captain and staunch conservative, was chosen Saturday for the March 13 special election, prevailing after two rounds of voting over state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler and state Sen. Kim Ward. State Rep. Jason Ortitay withdrew prior to the balloting.
“We got to rile up the base” to support President Donald Trump’s agenda, Saccone told more than 200 people present. He attributed his success partly to his military service and also to his experience overseas, having spent a dozen years in South Korea as well as a year in North Korea as part of an effort to prevent the regime from nuclear weapons.
Saccone has been prominent in the fight to expand gun rights and the role of religion in public life and sponsored legislation to declare 2012 the Year of the Bible in Pennsylvania. An opponent of abortion rights, he has drawn the support of religious conservatives.
Democrats are to pick their nominee next weekend from among candidates including a former federal prosecutor and the former head of the state’s largest teachers union.
Murphy resigned in September after nearly 15 years in the 18th District seat representing parts of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties. The district has a majority of registered Democrats but went to Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 3-2 ratio last year.
Next year’s May 15 primary and Nov. 6 general elections will determine who holds the seat in the 2019-20 term.
Murphy, a practicing psychologist, author and former commander in the Navy Reserves who had made mental health treatment a signature issue, acknowledged the affair with the mistress, who wasn’t pregnant, and said in a brief statement he would seek help as he and his family work through their “difficulties.”