Hafer: I’m not going anywhere
By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer
A day after two prominent Democrats ended their campaigns to replace John Murtha, former state Treasurer and Auditor General Barbara Hafer said she’s committed to staying in the race.
“I’ve said this before: People get in and people get out,” she told PoliticsPA during an interview Friday. “And that’s just the way it is in politics.
“I’m committed to this race and fully expect to stay in,” she said.
Former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel and Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso left the race Thursday, the same day former Murtha District Director Mark Critz received an endorsement from the congressman’s widow, Joyce.
Her support gave Critz a boost more than a week before Democratic delegates from the 12th District meet to recommend a candidate for the May 18 special election. The Saturday straw poll in Delmont will come two days before the state party’s executive committee officially decides on March 8 who will be placed on the ballot.
Hafer said Critz is clearly her biggest rival for the nomination.
“It’s between Mark and I,” she said. “It’s really going to be a foot-race for the weekend and also the eighth.”
Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. and former Navy officer Ryan Bucchianeri are also seeking the Democratic nomination.
Hafer said even if the party doesn’t pick her to run for the special election, she will continue her campaign for the primary. Each will be held on May 18, with the special election winner filling out the rest of Murtha’s term this year and the primary winner moving on to run in November’s general election.
The former state auditor general and treasurer touted her long experience in government – and the high name ID it’s given her in the district – as the reason she’s the best Democratic candidate in the race. Crtiz, she said, isn’t well-known outside of Johnstown and Cambria County and, despite what he says, isn’t capable of continuing Murtha’s legacy.
“(Critz’s supporters) see Mark Critz as the legacy of Jack Murtha,” Hafer said. “The problem is he isn’t Jack Murtha; he doesn’t have the clout of Jack Murtha; he doesn’t have the stature of Jack Murtha.”
And voters, upset at how the federal government is conducting business, want a different kind of representative, she said.
“John Murtha has a long strong history in this district, but the world has changed and the district has changed and the attitude of the public has changed,” Hafer said. “I think a new person needs to go and express … that need for change.”