Long serving congressman John Murtha is suddenly in a pitched battle to hold onto his house seat. To me, it sounds like he is being punished for speaking the truth. Seems that the drop in his support is all related to comments that race was playing a big roll in the close numbers between Obama and McCain in Western Pa. Apparently his consituents did not like being called out on some of there reasons for choosing McCain over Obama.
Murtha's hold on House seat slips By Mike Wereschagin and David M. Brown TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Two veteran warriors battling to represent the 12th Congressional District appear locked in the closest race in the district in years.
Democratic Rep. John Murtha leads retired Army Lt. Col. William Russell by a little more than 4 percentage points, within the Susquehanna Poll's 4.9-point margin of error. The poll of 400 likely voters was conducted for the Tribune-Review on Tuesday, amid uproar over Murtha's statement that some of his constituents are racist.
Stanley Shemanski, 67, a retired meat cutter who lives in Apollo, said he's undecided about the congressional race. He doesn't know much about Russell, but he's upset with Murtha's comment that racism in the district could hurt Democrat Barack Obama's chances.
"I didn't like that at all. He shouldn't have said it," Shemanski said.
Most of all, the national economy concerns him. "I'm retired, but my daughter, she works for the bank, and I'm worried about that."
Yet, poll participant Melissa Stoltz, 38, of Johnstown said she is backing Murtha because she likes his political views.
"He has the experience, and he is a former Marine. I was a Marine," said Stoltz, a caseworker. "Murtha's done a good job. I think he's really stuck up for your basic, every-run-of-the-day, normal person."
Murtha, 76, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, apologized for the racism remark, saying he meant to say that skin color is a factor in the battle for the presidency between Obama and Republican John McCain. Trying to add context to his remarks, Murtha later said many in Western Pennsylvania were "rednecks" several years ago.
Russell, 46, a Republican who served in the Iraq war, jumped on the remarks. McCain, in a campaign stop Tuesday in Moon, said he "could not disagree with those critics more," without mentioning Murtha by name.
About 54 percent of voters among those polled say it's time for someone else to represent them in Congress. About 35 percent say Murtha deserves to be re-elected.
"The most important variable here is that a decisive majority say it's time for a new person," said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research. He attributed some of the unhappiness with Murtha to the congressman's recent comments.
Send Murtha some support and help us maintain this important house seat.