Rep. John P. Murtha 's death Monday has undoubtedly left a huge void in the Pennsylvania delegation and the Democratic Caucus, but it also sets up a competitive special election contest that both parties will heavily target.
The 12th district is politically competitive, to say the least. The southwestern Pennsylvania district voted by a small margin for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race, and often elects Republicans to local office. Murtha, meanwhile, has always won re-election by convincing margins. In 2008, he won by 20 points despite a last-minute gaffe about his own district on the campaign trail in the waning days before the election.