Gov. Ed Rendell (D) announced the special election date Wednesday, saying it will save money to hold the two elections concurrently.
The move could also help Rendell's party, though, because Democrats will be holding competitive governor and Senate primaries that day, while the Republican primaries in those races are decidedly less interesting.
"At a time when all governments are trying to meet their challenges with reduced revenues, it would be unconscionable to force counties to spend money to hold an additional election which, by law, could be held little more than 30 days earlier," Rendell said.
Voters on May 18 will vote in two 12th congressional district races: the special election (a Republican versus a Democrat), and the party primaries for the November general election.
To choose a Democratic nominee, the half-dozen counties in Murtha’s
district will each recommend a candidate to the state’s executive
committee, which will then vote on the nominee.
Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer (D) has already declared herself a candidate, as had Navy veteran Ryan Bucchianeri. Other names being mentioned included former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel (D), state Sen. John Wozniak and John Hugya, Murtha’s former chief of staff.
Two Republicans are already in the race: businessman Tim Burns and William Russell, who ran against Murtha in 2008.
The GOP candidate for the special election will be chosen at a meeting of some 200 Republican conferees from around the 12th district.
UPDATE: This post originally left out Bucchianeri. It has been updated to reflect his candidacy.