Voters reelect dead Pennsylvania state representative and trigger special election

Democrat Tony DeLuca, 85, died at the end of last month after a battle with lymphoma, a disease that he’d previously beat twice

Johanna Chisholm
Wednesday 09 November 2022 12:52 EST
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Voters in Pennsylvania re-elected a dead state House of Representative member on Tuesday night, triggering a special election for a later date to fill the deceased Democrat’s seat.

Tony DeLuca passed away at the age of 85 on 9 October, making the timing of his death too close to the 8 November election to have his name removed from the ballot or change the candidate running for the 32nd District

The 32nd District of Pennsylvania, where DeLuca was comfortably positioned to become re-elected after serving in the state’s House of Representatives for 39 years, became one of the first races for the Associated Press to call.

Early voting on Tuesday gave indications that the deceased state lawmaker carried a sizable lead over the Green Party’s Zarah Livingston, who had run on a platform of ending the war on drugs, reducing gun violence and prioritising “environmental justice”, her website said.

In a statement shared on Twitter shortly after the race was called, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee came out to share their support for the posthumous lawmaker, who was longest-serving member of the state House of Representatives.

“While we’re incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters to continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously,” the committee wrote in a Twitter, noting that a “special election will follow soon”.

The 85-year-old lawmaker died after losing his battle to lymphoma, a disease that he’d previously fought off twice, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus said at the time of his death in October.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that DeLuca left behind four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and was preceded by his late wife, Connie, of 66 years who died from breast cancer.

He had four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his late wife Connie, to whom he was married for 66 years, prior to her diagnosis and death from breast cancer.

“My beautiful wife, you are with me every single day. Your presence is everywhere, in our home that we’ve made together, in my heart where you’ll always reside, in my thoughts where I will think of you always,” wrote the late state representative in a memoriam note to his wife last August. “I am eternally grateful for the 66 wonderful, amazing years of cherished memories you have given to me.”

There will now be three special elections held in Pennsylvania in the next few months, as seats will need to be filled for outgoing state representatives Summer Lee, who won her race for Congress against Republican Mike Doyle, and Austin Davis, who will resign to become the state’s Lt Governor.

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