The next major fight in the battle against the Obama agenda is the May 18th special election for the seat held for decades by John Murtha. Murtha has been challenged in the previous two elections by Republicans (Diana Irey in 2006 and Bill Russell 2008) who ran campaigns that primarily consisted of attacks against John Murtha's anti-war comments and the repeated allegations of corruption against him. In 2008, John McCain won this district by 6 percentage points; Russell's anti-Murtha campaign stuttered badly and he ultimately lost by 18 points.
Russell is yet again running in the special election, and he faces one GOP challenger, businessman Tim Burns. RedState has decided to endorse Mr. Burns, for a variety of reasons. The first is that Russell so drastically underperformed in the 2008 election. The second is that Bill Russell appears to have had no campaign plan whatsoever other than to run against Murtha. As an example of this, prior to Murtha's death, the Russell campaign site consisted mostly of attacks on Murtha; then, after Murtha died, the entire website was ripped down and replaced with literally nothing but a donate button, and remained that way through at least Sunday night. (A more complete campaign site has since been erected here.) The third is that several of us met Tim Burns in person over the weekend, who made himself available for as long as anyone wanted to talk and displayed a commanding grasp of the issues and a positive vision for the future of the district.
There is also the NY-23 concern. Credible rumors are circulating in Pennsylvania that should Tim Burns, an outstanding candidate, get the Republican nomination for the special election, Russell would try to go Doug Hoffman and rally people against the establishment. Were this true, it would be unacceptable as Tim Burns is stellar.
None of this is intended to slight Bill Russell or the admirable service he has rendered to this country. Rather, it is an expression of our judgment that Tim Burns is the better candidate to run a post-Murtha campaign that will encourage the voters of Pennsylvania's 12th District to think positively about the future and the Republican party. Ultimately, if Russell wins in the primary, we will happily support him in the general election.
Want to get involved in helping Tim Burns? Here's how you can help:
The process by which the GOP nominee will be chosen is an extremely convoluted one. The State GOP will hold a conferee meeting on March 11th at 7:00pm to choose the nominee. Each of the counties that comprise (in whole or in part) the 12th Congressional District (Greene, Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland) will be represented by their respective number of allotted conferees based on the electoral results of the 2008 presidential election. (For every 1,000 votes cast for McCain, 1 conferee is allotted.) The selection process for conferees varies from county to county and is dictated by each county's by-laws.
Therefore, there are two opportunities to get involved, especially if you are a voter in PA-12. First, get on the horn to your local county GOP chair (we have contact information for several below) and let them know, in a polite manner, that you support Tim Burns for Congress. Many of these county chairman may have no direct involvement in the selection of the conferees, but they will definitely notice the buzz generated for Burns, which can filter down through the selection process.
Second, once the conferees are chosen, we will post the information of as many conferees as we can find, and then it will be time for the voters of PA-12 to be heard. Part of the reason the debacle in NY-23 occurred is that the conferees made a decision in an almost total vacuum with respect to how activists in the district felt about the various candidates. We don't have to let that happen here. Get on the horn and get involved.
Republican Committee of Allegheny County: 412-458-0068 (email [email protected])
Armstrong County Republican Committee: 724-297-3456 (email [email protected])
Cambria County Republican Committee: 814-254-4322 (email [email protected])
Fayette County Republican Committee: (Website here.)
Somerset County Republican Committee: 814-455-5037
Washington County Republican Committee: 724-223-1001 (email [email protected])
Westmoreland County Republican Committee: 724-836-0570 (email [email protected])