By Chad Pergram, ,
Published December 23, 2015
The House swore-in its newest member Tuesday after a hard-fought special election to succeed the legendary Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who died unexpectedly in February.
Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA), a longtime aide to Murtha, defeated Republican Tim Burns in a contest many thought could be a bellwether of this fall's elections.
But even though the polling showed the race was neck-and-neck, Critz defeated Burns handily Tuesday night.
"This moment is bittersweet because I wouldn't be here if Jack Murtha wouldn't have left us," said Critz on the House floor, moments after being sworn-in. "While nobody can fill his shoes, I have the honor of following in his footsteps."
Critz took the oath of office standing between his 11-year-old twins, Sadie and Joe. His wife Nancy then blew the new Congressman a kiss from the viewing gallery. Murtha's widow Joyce was also on hand.
Critz faces Burns in a rematch this fall. And noted that the "campaign began yesterday."
"It wasn't about Washington, DC. It was about Washington, Pennsylvania," Critz said, referring to a struggling industrial town on the western edge of his sprawling district.
The House now has 432 members: 255 Democrats and 177 Republicans. There are three vacancies in seats once occupied by former Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Eric Massa (D-NY).
Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is expected to resign Friday after admitting he an affair with a member of his Congressional staff.