Local Democrats have selected Mark Critz as their preferred candidate to run in the special election to fill the late-Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pa.) open House seat.

Critz, a former Murtha staffer, picked up 46 of the 83 votes from the panel of top Democrats in the 12th congressional district, according to reports.


His nomination now heads to the state Democratic Party, which will weigh on Monday whether Critz will have the final nod to run in the May special election.

"Nobody is Mr. Murtha," Critz told the Tribune-Democrat after learning the news, adding: "My goal is to work as hard as he did."

Nevertheless, it is not too surprising the 12th district's Democrats chose Critz over Cambria Country Controller Ed Cernic, former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer and former Navy officer Ryan Buchianneri.

Critz won an early and important endorsement from Joyce Murtha, the late congressman's widow. And his previous work as Murtha's district director afforded him unmatched name recognition.

It is still unclear who Critz will face in the May special election, however, as Republicans will not select a candidate until May 11.