Pennsylvania Elects Dead Democrat to State House

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Dead men may tell no tales…but they do occasionally get elected. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Representative Tony DeLuca, a Democrat, was re-elected to the state House despite the fact that the 85-year-old died from lymphoma in October.


DeLuca had represented the state’s 32nd District for 39 years, the last 20 of which were spent as minority chairman of its Insurance Committee. Per the Pittsburgh Gazette:

 Early voting numbers Tuesday indicated that Mr. DeLuca, a Democrat, had a sizable lead over Green Party challenger Zarah Livingston. Mr. DeLuca, the longest-serving member of the state House of Representatives, died last month at age 85 from lymphoma. It was too late to change the election ballots or change the candidate running for the 32nd District, which includes Penn Hills, Verona, parts of Plum and Oakmont.

The Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee touted DeLuca’s win on Tuesday, adding that a special election will soon follow to determine his replacement.

While the notion of electing a dead man may seem jarring, it’s not unheard of. As noted by The Post Millennial:

The election a candidate posthumusly is certainly not without precedent. in the 2020 election, late North Dakotan Republican David Andahl beat longtime incumbent Jeff Delzer to win a seat in the House of Representatives one month after his death.


And, of course, in 2000, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan was elected to the U.S. Senate three weeks after his death in a plane crash. Carnahan was challenging incumbent Republican Senator John Ashcroft (who would later go on to serve as Attorney General under George W. Bush). In that instance, Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor Roger Wilson (who became the acting Governor upon Carnahan’s death) had already signaled he would appoint Carnahan’s widow, Jean, to the seat. Jean Carnahan served in the Senate for two years, until a special election was held, ushering in Republican Jim Talent.

And lest we assume that posthumous elections are a one-sided affair, brothel owner and reality TV star Dennis Hof — a Trump-supporting Republican — was elected posthumously in 2018 to Nevada’s State Assembly — and he wasn’t even an incumbent!

So, no, posthumous elections aren’t without precedent. Frankly, they’re less disconcerting than the notion of dead people voting — and a darn sight better than the election of some living, breathing candidates.


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